You will break her. You won't mean to, of course, but you will. You will leave her heart shredded in a million different pieces until she can't go anywhere in this city, in this town, in this world without saying your name. You will teach her how to burn, how to love, how to forgive, and you will spend your entire life learning how to carve apologies into your flesh just so you can hold it out to her, so she knows she's not the only one who's bled for this thing between you. You will make her forget anything that comes before and you will dull anything that comes after, and even at the beginning you and she both know there will be an after; there will be a beginning, there will be a middle, there will be an end, and there will be an after.

And still.

The impossible arch of her spine stares at you, and you reach out to trace it with a lazy finger. You think about all the songs you will write about the perfect line of her back, about the dip in her collarbone, the secrets that she keeps there that only you know. Like how the skin there tastes sweet, like how your lips in that perfect spot make her writhe beneath you, and you can't think of a single sweeter sound than your name falling from her lips.

You smooth the hair out of her face and watch the steady rise and fall of her back as she inhales and exhales steadily. She sleeps on her stomach, her arms curled underneath her pillow. It's something you couldn't have guessed, wouldn't have, but somehow it makes perfect sense as it allows your fingers to dance along the smooth skin of her back as a smile flutters across your lips.

You're a selfish bastard, and while it's something you've always known, there is something about the revelation as it comes with your fingers on her skin that makes it so much worse somehow. If you could keep her like this, yours, until the stars burned out you would. Without a doubt, without shame you know you should feel, you would.She makes you forget. She makes you forget the blood, the hunger, the hot nights in Mississippi where you wondered whether you'd even get to see the next one, where you hoped you would, hoped you wouldn't. She curls her body into yours until she slips into your veins and you would swear she's the only thing keeping you alive. Some nights, you know that she is.

It's not fair to anyone. Least of all her. Least of all you. You'd thought you'd given up the idea that you could be for anyone, but the touch of her soft palm against your cheek disavowed you of that notion and you felt the painful blossoms of hope begin to bloom in your chest until your veins were filled with nothing but flowers and the scent of her. It is dangerous, you know. It was dangerous to fall the way you had. To let her. To let her fall, to let her catch you the way no one ever had the right to.

And still.

You watch her carefully, noticing the small uptick at the corner of her mouth. She is pretending to be asleep, and you lean down and kiss her shoulder, opening your mouth to nip the skin there and then you suck on it until she giggles. You pull back and smooth the pad of your thumb against the red flesh, knowing that soon there will be a half-moon bruise on her pale skin. You mark her in more ways than one.

"You're doing it again," She says, her voice raw from the ends of ecstasy and a cat nap.

And you hear the words she doesn't say: looking at me like I might break. Because you are, and she will.

And if you're honest about all the things that scare you the most about her, it's that look in her eyes, the one that's still there even after you've made her moan your name over and over again, the one you're sure you don't deserve. And it's the look that tells you she'll heal.

x

He will break you. And you? You will let him.

You will spend your life in a house on fire trying not to choke on the smoke as it engulfs you just to prove to him, this unbearably sweet and sad boy, that he's worth it. He's worth any burn that might lick at your flesh, he's worth a thousand sleepless nights, he's worth the shatter of your heart even if there's no way to possibly put it back together, not ever, even if some pieces are lost forever in dark corners where spiders or children will find them someday and think how pretty, what's this.

The law of primacy tells you that there will be nothing after this, that there can be nothing after this.

And still.

His fingertips ghost across your skin and your lip curls up, because he's playing you. His favorite instrument, he calls you, and when he does, your heart is on fire, it is going up in flames and the thing is that he doesn't know. He doesn't know that your heart would self-immolate just to hear the perfect way his lips wrap around the letters of your name.

He thinks you're not a willing accomplice in this, that you don't know all the exact and precise ways he will hurt you, that you aren't aware of what comes next. He thinks if you did, if you were, you would leave. You would run and never look back; he doesn't know that you would gladly spend the rest of your days counting every scar he gives you if it just meant that he would give you something else. If he would just drag that dagger across your skin one more time.

He looks at you so gently sometimes, like you're a porcelain doll and his very hand is a pickaxe that could destroy you with just the barest touch. You want nothing more than to hold a mirror up to him, to grab him by the face and whisper over and over again until he understands, until he believes,that he deserves this too.

And he teaches you. Oh, how he teaches you, his fingers and mouth finding places on your body you didn't even know could exist. Places that lick fire up your spine, that pool a heat low in your belly.

But you teach him too, don't you?

You teach him that a fist isn't always a bruise, that a scream isn't always blood, that there are some things that are infinitely louder than hate. You teach him about the good kind of hunger. And you teach him to trust your fingers on his skin, your hands in his hair, your lips against his. You teach him how to uncage his own heart, you teach him that Sundays are for sleeping and worshipping anything you hold sacred, and you do all of this at the breakfast table, over coffee, between the sheets you have come to share.

You teach him love. And you do this knowing it won't last, that it cannot last; you do this knowing that he will break you—that you will break him, and you will both do it without ever really meaning to. You will break each other, you will hurt each other, like some prophecy was written ages ago and there is nothing either of you can do except fulfill it. So, you will. You do this—love him—knowing all of this. Knowing that there are days coming that will be filled with so much pain that you'll lose the word only to find it again and wish desperately that you hadn't. There will be days when you will wonder if it was worth it, if any of this was worth it.

And still.

You never had a choice. Neither did he. You sleep with unread books of poetry beside your bed knowing that if you looked you would find him in them, that you would find yourself. You don't want to know how it ends, even if it does. And it does, it will, it has.

But, then, there's beauty in that, too, isn't there?