I gave him the lock that is always draped around his neck, so he will be mine.
I'm really that naïve, to think of him as my property, and I still believe I own him.
Victor Wise, the man who is and always will be exactly that: mine.

I. love favours none

I want him, I need him, I deserve him—

Statements I keep telling myself over and over while the heat, from the tea in my mug, warms my hands and the aroma of peppermint nuzzles through the apartment. He is the hope I have never managed to have. The doorbell rings, and I raise my head in anticipation, looking over to the large wooden frame. My mug starts shaking, or maybe it's my hands that are trembling. Either way, I set it on the table before me and rush to the door.

I am too good for him to leave.

I have lived in an indigent environment my entire life, which led me to have a multitude of sexual partners—not out of love or compassion, nor any other delightful sensation. I didn't have much of a choice. Woman after woman had lain in my bed, pampered and caressed. In the end, I came to the conclusion that they were such fragile creatures, for I've had my fair share of men as well, who, more than often, think nothing of such gentleness.

So perhaps it is ironic, in a way, that being with Victor is the only thing I've ever truly wanted—desired.

I open the door, facing his stoic smile. His leather jacket caresses broad shoulders and the lock—my lock, my treasure—is carelessly swaying sideways as he walks in. I can't help but continue to stare at it in fascination, still unable to appreciate its meaning. He circles his arms around my waist as a greeting, pulling me closer into his body and shutting the door behind him with his foot.

I take in his scent—let my head rest against his chest and inhale. I don't have to utter my doubts when I am with him, nor any of my questions. The strange thing about Victor and I is that we communicate without the need of words.

Besides, I sound pathetic, even to my own ears, when I try to utter words of affection, so I don't. Those are things I don't openly share with others. I am often reprimanded for having too much pride. But what does the world really know? There have always been things attached to my name, hovering over my head like the strings of a puppet. Sometimes, I imagine I can actually feel the tingle of invisible threads sprouting from my fingertips.

'The boy who was abandoned.'

'The boy who sells his body for money.'

'The family wrecker.'

The whore.

The liar.

The cheater.

Pride is the only thing I have left; it is mine. It is the only thing I could hang on to in all those years of selfish endeavours. Perhaps it is laughable, maybe even foolish, for what kind of pride could someone like me have? Everything in my life has only been a one-time thing. It has always only lasted for but a moment; except for my pride, and the man holding me.

Most often, he is the exception to all. The pain in my chest eases, but somewhere in the corners of my mind, the slight tear of losing him is very vivid.

Victor places a kiss on my forehead and tightens his embrace. "You thought I wouldn't come, didn't you?" he whispers into my ear. His voice is low, raspy, a little intimate.

The late nights he spends studying and working, of course I no longer expect him. I've long accepted the fact that I can not stick to him every waking moment. As a strong man, I should just calmly welcome him in and not cling to his embrace, not tear up at the fact that he did come. I shouldn't have taken off his clothes or mine at the bare thought of him actually being here, and dragged him into my room like some kind of alcohol induced whore who is too eager to get laid.

But, as a matter of fact, I am actually not strong. So I do end up clinging to his bare body next to mine, pleading for some salvation while my fingertips trace the outline of his face; his skin shivering underneath my touch. These moments with him have become the most precious treasures of my world, and if I could, I'd do anything to keep him in my bed: next to me, over me, in me.

Just the simple gesture of his arm being draped around my frame gives me comfort—far more than the one I have always imagined while lying in bed with a customer. Comfort and warmth, few of the only things I've ever really wanted, which I have been trying to achieve so desperately.

I know very well that they ask him if it is terrible having a whore as your partner, but they wouldn't understand and he would never explain it to them, because being known as the Prostitute's Lover is one thing Victor hates the most. However, he never walked up to me and told me he hated me for it. No, he just lets them talk, no matter how much he despises it and I can't thank him enough for it. But still, even though I try to stop what I do best, the only thing I ever learned to do, I have this chain yanking me forward with a key that doesn't manage to unlock anything but the past.

It has never been my choice to begin with.

I am stuck here, in a world of delusional pleasure with disgusting people.

Sometimes, the depth of my resentment for myself scares me. It's like a disease that keeps growing, strangling and smothering each breath that comes out of me while it festers within my heart. The longer he stays with me, the deeper it burrows itself. A better person could find a way to be happy with this outstanding human being holding me; a less prideful person may have let it go.

But I am neither.

Growing up in orphanages—the streets—and making money the only way I was able to think of is one of my greatest accomplishments, although it isn't looked upon well. I've become accustomed to the rude remarks and snarky replies. No one understands, though.

It is the easiest thing to do: pleasure people.

You pull them into their fantasies and drag them into their wants, for just a few minutes I lead them into heaven. It is the only tale I have ever been told, and there is no way I can forget, due to the people who constantly go on about it: my job.

Because, how does one go about forgetting a fixed reminder?

Victor sighs and pulls the sheets closer to his body, closing his eyes. The sound of him doing so drags me back to reality, back to him laying with me in bed without any seconds thoughts. There is some kind of magic in our twisted way of living, in our so-called relationship. We say what we want and don't care about a damn thing. We do whatever we feel like doing.

This is how we are—who we are.

I turn away from him, scooting over to the edge of the bed and sitting up. What we have is fragile, I know that. I always hope for it to last—as much as I hope for the world to be served to me on a silver platter, and how likely is it for that to happen? Thinking of it all, I start to get this weird feeling one gets when you're nearing the end of a good book and you never get to know what's written on the last page.

And while I drown within my thoughts, which scare me, Victor follows me.

His hands crawl up to hug me from behind, curling his head against my back. "It's all right. Tell me," he says, leaving trails of kisses on my skin. I've always admired him. He has a grace about himself, one that I've always lusted after. He is always the same sentimental, sensitive Victor. Maybe that's why I want him to be mine.

"I wonder," I being, brushing the hair out of my face, " how long before we fall apart, Victor? In the end, it's expected of us to change just like the rest. We might not always tolerate the things the other does." Or rather: it has all played out too smoothly for us.

Although, I don't believe in lasting things, I really, really need this. The groundbreaking feelings he provides me with save me from myself. It terrifies me. He hums low in his throat and pulls me back into his arms, simply stating, "Some things never change, love."

I bite back the cry forming within my throat and nuzzle into his neck.

He loves me for who I am and never for any other reason, so maybe he's right. When I first met this man and looked into his eyes, they were the only honest and sincere ones I had ever met in my line of work. There wasn't even a clear start, it all just happened. It was a club, loud music and plenty of alcohol, and the next day I found myself waking up next to him. It just went on from there.

So, if it started that easy, it can end the same way.

This in turn only adds to me always being jealous of him because it is so easy for him to say those things. Wrapping my arms around him, I cling to his body as tightly as possible because I can't lose him. I could not live without him anymore. I wish I could support myself, like he supports us both emotionally. It always seems like he is much stronger than me.

I close my eyes, letting his warmth seep into my pores and all the worries vanish. I can almost feel the energy flowing from his body into my veins. Every time we are like this, it makes my pulse slow down, it makes time fade, colours brighter; it makes my skin more receptive to his touch.

It's like being drunk or high, just without the alcohol and drugs.

I never wanted to settle. I liked to go where the wind took me. I am not good with people nor emotions. So, why did I give him that lock? It's something inside me that tries to force me to settle with this one person. But, how long before we fall, Victor, like the rest of the world?

II. battle of pride and shame

I've never known what it felt like to be desired, that is until Victor pranced into my life. All the women and men I have pleased never left that tingling sensation of bliss behind. After a night spent in a cheap hotel room with cheap wine, I felt dirtier than the boots of a soldier.

It was all nothing: those were always fake kisses, fake touches and fake moaning.

But it is all I know, to please the ones who need a release. I don't know any better. So how do I explain those painful words to him? "It was fine at first, but I can't do something like this," I try to clarify, pointing to the air in front of us. It is just my way, and I fear that he'll never understand.

"This?" he asks with hints of desperation hidden in his voice; the same emotion that is easily spotted within his eyes. It hurts more than I've expected. His right hand shoots up, grabbing my wrist and tugging me closer to him, as if he's afraid I'd run away—which I actually am tempted about doing—but while staring into the eyes that I've always wanted to get lost in, I realise I have no choice but to face him. I owe him that much at least.

Although my facade holds up to his intense glare, my heart doesn't manage to do quite the same. I clear my throat from the most overwhelming nervousness I've ever felt.

You know, when you work on the streets you don't have this. It's all just words and lies and deception and no one fucking cares. You whisper lies of passion and pretend to be in some kind of bliss, you lie. You just fucking lie. You put on a show. This is how I live. This is all I can, all I am—

I can feel those words race through my mind, but never pass my lips.

He is worth more than such petty excuses.

Fearing our current situation, I take a step back while shaking my head and pulling my wrist out of his hand. The shocking reality of how cold I really feel hits me when the lack of his warmth is suddenly withdrawn with my actions. This is not how it works! Our unique game has to come to an end somewhere; I just can't handle it anymore.

I knew one of us would fall some time.

I knew one of us would cave in to the truth some day.
I just didn't expect it to be me.

Meeting him, being loved by him, it was like a beacon shining so brightly that gravitating towards him was the only natural thing to do. That blindingly sharp and beautiful pull of devotion that had hit me the moment I woke up next to him, filled me with such warmth that it was almost equally painful as it was glorious.

It is strange, in hindsight, why the possibility has never occurred to me, the one of a happy ending. Why I never even considered that we would always be—that I always doubted us.

"I can't be with you," I point out, and those are the only words I manage to utter before he spins on his heels and walks away, faster than usual, but always gracious.

The last I am able to see of him are empty eyes; the sudden loss of spark in them runs a deep scare through me. No goodbye kiss, no last hug or a smile, I am not worthy of such and it actually makes me feel relieved. It's just that the more I think about it and wonder how things will go, the more I feel like I know where this is going—that this will only lead to a dead end because I know, better than anyone else, that nothing can change us.

And time flies by without a blink. Two weeks pass, then three, then four and then five.

And it doesn't surprise me that after six weeks Victor never calls, neither does he come visit. After what I said, I can't be too hurt that he doesn't, but I am. Irony is harsh, and the funny thing about it is that I am running low on money—one thing I pride myself with: earning money whenever I please. I leave him so I can continue being who I am and in the end I find myself with no customers.

It makes me want to cry because after all this time, I can't seem to want any right now—because Victor has thrown me off balance. I just stand in my apartment on the fifth floor and stare out of the window by the kitchen counters, watching the lights from the streets, which have always been a beautiful contrast against the dark sky.

I planned on simply forgetting about Victor, just letting go. I planned to pretend like there had never been anything serious between the two of us. A fling, a flirt—nothing more.

I'm okay, I'm fine, I'm fantastic and all that fancy stuff.

I throw the empty vodka bottle next to the others lying on the ground.

Jumping across the counter, I snatch the fridge open and grab another, opening it in a haste to place it against my lips and taking a long needed swig. I deserve this.

Walking back over to the window, I can't help but glide down to the floor as everything inside of me shakes. My toxic induced mind sways in-between reality and illusions.

It's a good way to get lost in yourself.

My entire being is being attacked by quivers going across it and my mind is everything but empty. I just wanted to forget and go back to when things weren't complicated and I still had goals of finding happiness and leaving this life behind, but I clung to it too long to do so and now that I've banished the one thing I found from my life, I am alone in a room that suddenly feels too cold without him. I am stuck in a place that has absorbed his scent, and it terrifies me.

Is everything I've thought about just a good defence that I kept repeating to myself until it became the truth? Was it only that, an excuse? I need help, I need comfort. I didn't think that this would all be stuck so deep in my soul that without him, I can't even do my fucking job. I can't sleep.

I'm wrong. . . I am wrong.

I have done something completely and utterly wrong. The question is: is it really too late?

I set the vodka bottle aside, pull my phone out of my pocket, flip it open and press the speed dial. Victor's number flashes across the screen. The lack of sleep, the alcohol still fresh in my veins and the utter desperation for his touch makes me hit the call button. The signal beeps monotonously in my ear as I wait for someone to pick up.

If I really was so sure about leaving him behind before and just letting him go, so damn sure that it would never work: why do I still have his number?

Nobody picks up.

The beeping on the other end just continues as I cradle my knees. This can't be it. This isn't it! I throw the phone across the room and watch it hit the yellow wall. How the hell did I manage to get things this fucked up? My lips graze the bottle again and I take another long swig. Closing my eyes, I let it all seep in. I let all the memories come flooding back to me so quickly my breathing halts.

The space Victor left is more visible to me now than any other time during these six weeks, and the longing for him is becoming more than I can bear. I try, desperately, to hold back my tears. I will not cry over this. I can't let myself break down. I just can't let the tears pour down my cheeks and strip me of my last—and it takes all the strength I manage to gather not to do so. This is truly it.

A knock reverberates through the apartment and my head snaps up, making my world spin out of control. Yet another knock echoes through the room. "Go away," I manage to yell, throwing the bottle against the wooden door and destroying it in a loud crash. My eyes linger on the liquid that runs down the wall, easily flowing down to the shards of glass.

"Just leave."

I put my hands to my ears, muffling the continuing knocking, pressing hard and trying to block out everything around me. I close my eyes again, letting the darkness shift around me and my head drops onto my knees.

"Allan," the familiar low, raspy, a little intimate voice washes over me.

I squeeze my eyes, keeping them shut—fearing everything I probably shouldn't. Hearing the front door open, the gentle footsteps, the door close and then the footsteps again—quickly walking towards me—my mind freezes. Then, the sound is gone as he crouches down to my eye level and I lift my head to stare into his eyes; the ones that have never once condemned me for who I was—for who I am. He wrinkles his nose at the smell of vodka wafting off of me.

His brown eyes are graced by purple bags underneath them and his otherwise small goatee has now grown into a full blown five o'clock shade.

And while I just sit there, staring, all I can think about is the spare key I forgot about it.

"Please, go away," I finally end up mumbling, slurring my words and trying to avoid his gaze.

There is a slight trembling in my voice. The warmth that engulfs me while just being near him scares me so much I fear I can never retreat from it.

"Victor," his name rushes from my lips and I repeat it over and over, until it turns into muffled sobs as I finally break down into the tears that had been waiting on the threshold for the last couple of weeks, and to the utter loneliness that had been weaving itself through my system.

He pulls me into his arms, capturing and crushing me within his embrace, and I cry.

"You reek," he whispers next to my ear, a faint smile lies within his voice.

He does it on purpose, his light insults, meaning to do nothing but make me smile and I am so grateful for it because this is all it takes for my pain to ease and my doubts to vanish. I dig my nails into his back, wanting to merge with him, which causes him to let out a small whimper, but he doesn't dare move away.

Victor knows I am stubborn and have too much pride, and how it takes forever for me to come to the conclusion that I am wrong. So he doesn't say anything or forces me to apologise. He just holds and comforts me, and this is probably why I need him to be mine.

III. defective affections

"Get out of my fucking apartment!" Victor yells loudly, slamming the door before my face.

Opening my mouth in protest, I can't do anything but gasp out a sound of agony. My breathing fastens, matching the beating of my heart. I turn, slide down the dark wood and lean against it only to let the tears fall thick and fast.

I can hear him sigh on the other side and I know he can hear me cry.

How bad is what we have really? It's always an endless cycle of cheating, silent treatments and crying, only for it to somehow resolve itself. It is a warped, yet honest relationship of anger, tears and mistrust, with a tender grip of devotion lying underneath the surface.

Victor has been drunk every single time he's cheated on me—my sensitive, sentimental Victor—and I have always been sober. He does it out of revenge. I do it because it is all I am used to, not that it makes it justifiable.

This is exactly why I wanted to end it all. Why I broke up with him eight weeks ago.

I hate seeing Victor upset, devastated and broken.

Of course, due to the fact that we are who we are and never change, I have seen this side of him far too many times, but that does not make it any easier. In fact, it is more difficult as it just clarifies the ever growing insecurities of our relationship. Five years ago I already came to the conclusion that we probably weren't good for each other.

We are not like normal couples.

We don't lie to each other; if I had cheated—like I did the previous night—I'd fess up.

Besides, by now I could tell when he cheated, as could he; it was never a secret to begin with, really. It's the look we give each other, the one of guilt and shame and hatred. And we keep doing this to one another, over and over. I don't understand why we even try to be together.

Wiping the tears from my eyes, I begin to cradle my knees because the pain is just too much.

It hurts; it always hurts when he pushes me out of his arms and tells me to leave. I wonder how many fragments are left of our relationship, how long it will take for all of this to crumble down on us. I hear Victor's footsteps approach the door and get up, preparing myself for the oncoming silence. The wood creaks in it's hinges when he rips it open and walks away. He stops in the hallway, right in front of the door fully leading into his home while I enter and close the front door.

At first, I dare not look at him but when I do I feel more than just hurt. Victor's eyes are red—my own feel sore from crying— and his hair is a mess from where he had run his fingers through. The cigarette pack he's holding is dwindled, he probably, most likely, smoked his way through half of it just now. We stare at each other in silence for a good amount of time before I open my mouth, hesitantly fumbling with my hands to try and form anything of meaning.

However, the only thing that waltzes from my lips are small noises, nothing that resembles a sentence or any form of words. So I shut it again.

I watch his hands tremble while I am at a loss for words.

This is how it always ends: I enter his apartment, he stops and stares at me for a while and then turns to go shower. But today it is entirely different. Today it feels like he is expecting something from me and I wish he would just turn around.

"I keep asking myself why we are together. Why we put ourselves through all of this," he starts—his voice low, raspy, a little intimate. "I come up with nothing. We are just that damaged, even more so now because of this relationship—" he stops.

Panic ridden, I try to speak but my lips only end up forming a grimace of a mixture between a laugh and a cry that never escapes my tongue. I feel like I am suddenly pushed into a lake during a harsh phase of winter. The lump forming in the back of my throat stops, nearly suffocating me.

I am barely able to hold the tears at bay because this is wrong.

This is not how we usually end our fights. We don't talk, we just let it resolve itself. I don't like this attempt of fixing what is broken. Victor knows I am crumbling on the inside so he takes a few steps towards me, and I take a few steps back.

The mere idea of being held by him while he ends it all is too much for me.

Just the thought of him touching me now is revolting. It disgusts me; I disgust myself. I stare at the lock around his neck; it had been my attempt to lock him away from anyone else, to show everyone that he already had an owner—like a pet. What kind of person am I? I look back into his eyes, desperately holding back a cry. And I know he is about to break it all, about to ruin—

"I need you, Allan," he goes on—and I feel the anticipation wash away from me; feel a shiver of relief dance across my skin and my heartbeat quickens.

"That is the only plausible reason I can think of for being with you. I don't think I could function properly without you. You have become a part of my daily routine—" he pauses and moves closer— "this is normal for me. I need this normality. I need this feeling of panic. I need you to be who you are every day; I need you to need me more than anything," he stops, reaching out for me and waits. I am frozen where I am, as though my feet have been embedded into the ground and everything is tumbling and shaking and blurring.

He inches towards me again, lowering his voice into a whisper. "Because, Allan, I love you."

I gasp, nearly letting my knees give in to their quivering. It is the first time that those words had been uttered between us. Five years and no one has ever said those sweet and tender words, which now cling to my skin, leaving my limbs trembling in the sudden shower of affection.

My sweet, generous, kind and loving Victor, this is exactly why I want you to be mine—why I have this desperate need to claim you.

His arms finally find their way around my waist and I am pressed into the warmth of his physique, letting it wrap itself around me like that thick wool blanket of his.

As foolish as the idea may seem, we are intertwined in one another, locked in each other's lives with such tightly formed knots that it's impossible to escape.

And, the truth is, Victor Wise really is mine.