Van Trang's lip split like a ripe tomato, his teeth scraping my knuckle. They didn't snap like I'd hoped, but the gushing pliancy of torn flesh was satisfying enough.

He paled, tears streaming down his cheeks as he fell back against a tree trunk, then to his knees, an emaciated hand cupping his mouth. I noticed that he still hadn't gotten rid of that stupid chipped black nail polish.

"You hit me in the face. You're not supposed to hit me in the face," Van Trang whined, his voice thankfully muffled by his palm. He sounded like he wanted to say something more, but bitching apparently hurt too much. Blood seeped between his fingers, oozing down his arm, soaking the front of his absurdly expensive Hot Topic band tee.

I suppose I should have pretended to feel sorry for breaking one of our rules, but I just wasn't in the mood. I looked around for signs of other people, but I wasn't too worried about anyone hearing him. We were in a pretty secluded section of the park.

"And here I thought I was doing you a favor," I scoffed with as much derision as I could muster. The cut on my knuckle was bleeding a little, mingling with the blood-and-saliva spatter that had somehow travelled up to my elbow. I wiped it off as best I could on the grass, wondering if the fag had given me AIDS. "Isn't that our deal? I rough you up a little and you get to go home and jerk off to the pain."

Van Trang looked indignant. He pulled his hand a little away from his mouth and spluttered, "I— that's not— I don't— that isn't true. You make it sound like I'm— I'm not the one with the problem here!" Blood dribbled off his chin and he moaned—in pain, he would say, but he obviously enjoyed it.

"Yeah, okay." I had to admit, Van Trang had some balls. One had to be particularly testosterone addled to even try and deny that volunteering to get the shit kicked out of you made you anything but a masochist.

He managed to stand up while I was lost in my thoughts. He pulled his shirt collar up to his lip as he spoke. "I'm only doing this for your sake, you know. You're lucky I even care enough to—Look, it's not like I benefit from this!"

The involuntary quirk of my eyebrow was enough to let him know I wasn't buying, but I decided to rub it a little more. "Van Trang, the fact is that most people wouldn't be able to make coherent sentences in the state you're in. That just tells me you've been hurt like this before. The boner tells me that you've enjoyed it, too." Okay, the last part was a lie, but I swear I saw him sporting a chubby once or twice before, after I'd given him a good sock to the stomach.

"You're such a—look, have you got a napkin or something? This shirt cost twenty bucks."

I handed over some partially used tissues I found in my pocket, not even bothering to act like I hadn't remembered I had them.

Van Trang sat with his back to a tree trunk, facing away from me, trying to perform some damage control on his shirt and lip. I joined him, sitting a little ways away, plucking at the grass because I knew that he hated it. He tsked at me, but when I looked up, ready to throw the handful of grass at him, I realized he had finally noticed that his lipstick had smeared.

"This is why dudes don't wear make-up," I reminded him. He didn't answer, instead giving me the silent treatment like the little bitch he was. "Dudes also shouldn't paint their nails black, or any color for that matter, and they especially don't leave it on long enough to flake off and looked diseased."

That earned me a snort and a muttered, "Are you still on about that?"

I fell back on the grass, threading my fingers underneath my head, and closed my eyes "Can you finish up quick? I'm feeling extra pissed today, and I want to get a couple more punches in. Maybe a kick to the shins, as well."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Van Trang's voice was back to being its usual calm, airy, faintly lisping self. One of the secondary perks of getting to beat him up was hearing his voice become hoarse and, dare I say it, manly, afterwards. His normal speaking voice got annoying fast.

It took me a moment to process the question. "Of course I don't want to fucking talk about it."

"Well, I just thought…"

"I don't care what you think." I sat up, and waited a moment. Then I stood up and paced.


"No, Van Trang." I stopped and glared down at him, sitting in that particularly feminine way that drove me nuts. "I don't want to talk about it, and I never will. These arrangements aren't for talking. They're for beating the shit out of you so I don't haul off and strangle my father."

"So this is about your father." He dared to look triumphant. I followed up on that promised kick to the shin. For once, he retaliated by kicking me back, and in my surprise, I fell on my ass. As I lay there groaning—in pain, which don't enjoy, I might add—he tsked again, and asked, "Anne Boleyn, what shall I do with you?"

That fucking joke again. How many times had I heard some variation of "Oh, your name is Beau Lin? As in Anne Boleyn? Get it? They sound the same!" Hardy har fucking har. And Van Trang, with his unbelievably awesome name, had the nerve to rub it in. I mean really, Pham Van Trang. Fucking amazing. Or Trang Van Pham, as it legally was in the good ol' U.S. of A. I distinctly remember the first time he'd told me his name, which I hadn't asked for. He'd honestly felt the need to explain how, traditionally, his family name came before his given one, as if I weren't Asian as well. Long story short: that was why I called him Van Trang. As far as I knew, I was the only one.

I had closed my eyes again, choosing to lie there and ignore the world, but I was interrupted by the light behind my eyelids going dark. I couldn't say I was surprised to see Van Trang's face hovering inches above my own. A few droplets of blood tapped against my lips.

"Beau, what would you say if I told you that I wanted to kiss you?"

"A strictly rhetorical question is it?" I smirked, hoping to avoid the subject. Van Trang wouldn't blink, clearly expecting an answer. I closed my eyes again. "Hmmm. It's a tie between 'eww, get your gay cootie germs away from me' and 'I'm flattered, but I have a girlfriend and am therefore one hundred percent heterosexual'. Although, if this is you actually, finally, coming out of the closet, I say congratulations, because you were getting a little moth-eaten in there."

He didn't laugh. Damned if I didn't feel insulted. That was one of my best yet.

Instead he said, "I thought you and Gracie broke up."

"We did. But we'll be back together by the end of the week. We always are." I smirked up at him, a little surprised to see that he was still so close. "What, did you honestly think that just because I'm not banging anyone at the moment, I'd be desperate enough to be all over your dick?"

This is the part where Van Trang stomps off in a tizzy. We don't speak for a couple days, but since he's a dependent little bastard and I don't really need him anyway, I can easily out-wait him and avoid apologizing first. Not that I'd ever apologize anyway. He says sorry first and we go back to our strange little Master-slave relationship like nothing ever happened.

But that's not what happened.

It turned out that this was the part where Van Trang kisses me full on the lips despite his being gashed open. His blood spurts into my mouth. The fact that he moans— in obvious pleasure this time— only serves to prove that I was right all along, about several things. This is also the part where I have a momentary freak out. My limbs flail about like a toddler having a seizure during a tantrum. I'm not proud to admit that. Eventually, my fist makes contact and I sock Van Trang in the chin. I am proud to admit that.

And we're back to the beginning again. Van Trang is curled over himself, nursing his injury while I stand victorious over him.

"Don't ever do that again," I warn him. He doesn't look up, doesn't acknowledge that he heard, but of course he did. When has he ever not listened to me?

"Are you gonna—" Van Trang sounded like he'd swallowed a duck.

"Oh Jesus, are you seriously crying?"

"No!" he shouted past the snot dripping out of his nose. Lovely.

I put my hands on my hips, trying to figure out what to do, not to say that I couldn't handle the situation, just that I hated it when people cried in front of me. If you don't say something, you come across as a jerk. Imagine that. Me, coming across as a jerk.

I wasn't even sure why I cared.

"Look, yeah, I rejected your advances or whatever but I'm not going to…whatever or whatever." Fuck it. That wasn't one of my best.

Van Trang, however, looked as if I'd just proven that Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy exist after all. "We're still friends?"

"Christ, you are so gay. And we've never been friends." Even I wasn't so heartless as to ignore the kicked-puppy look that one earned me. "But yes, you still have the right to bask in my glory and be my punching bag."

He held out his hands with their chipped-paint fingers toward me and I was merciful enough to help him up. Once he was up, I tried pulling my hands away but he wouldn't let go.

"Beau…" he drifted off, trying to stare soulfully into my eyes.

"What?" I asked, cautious, hoping he wasn't going to kiss me again.

"You are one extremely fucked up man." He had the nerve to laugh.

"What the—"

He let go of me and strolled away, whistling.

"You can't just— I'm the one that's fucked up? Me?"

"You can walk home, right?" he called over his shoulder, not a care in the world.

I ground my teeth, trying to think of a way to torture a masochist and actually not have him like it. It wasn't easy.

I'd get that bastard back. Tomorrow.