Authors Note: Thanks for all the reviews! I really appreciate them. So this chapter is a lot longer than the others, and there are no scene breaks. So... go potty and grab a drink and some popcorn. That's the best I can tell you. :)

Chapter 12- Good Again

I leave Kyle sitting on the couch with a glass of cold water and disappear into the downstairs bathroom. The minute the door closes, I crumple in front of the toilet and vomit nastily into the porcelain bowl. I try to stop it, but each time I think I've gained control of my weak stomach, my mind conjures up the swastika burns covering his once perfect skin, and another wave of nausea overtakes me.

For all the scenarios I had played out in my head, trying so desperately to find a reason behind Kyle's sudden personality change, I had never stopped to imagine he was going through something so unbearably horrifying. And I don't even know yet how those telltale marks had come to be. No matter who had put them there or what had been used, there was no escaping the excruciating pain he must have been in, the screams that must have echoed in its wake.

More sick.

My stomach convulses violently, the spasms rocking me in protest of the thought. Another wave hits shortly after, and I'm forced to stop envisioning it; I focus on my breathing.

When the last of my nausea is expelled, I fall back on my ass. The white and blue tiles feel cool through my clothes, and they help counter the dizziness, but my hands are shaking from the turmoil of the situation.

Whoever did this to my Kyle is going to pay; in the worst way imaginable, they are going to pay. And I'll be special delivering it myself.

But I can't dwell on that now. Kyle is waiting for me in the next room, risking himself in ways I can't even imagine to tell me what has happened to him. And though a part of me is reluctant to hear all the gruesome details, I know I can't back away now. I'll have to put my weak stomach on hold and be strong. For Kyle.

I flush the toilet and grab the ledge of the sink to pull myself up. In the mirror, my eyes are watery and blood shot. I splash my face with cool water and rinse the fowl taste out of my mouth, then think better of it and decide to use the Wintergreen Scope in the medicine cabinet. Thank God for Mom's obsessive habit of keeping dental supplies in the guest bathroom.

Once I'm satisfied with the strong taste of mint on my breath, I screw the cap back on and replace the bottle in its proper position. Next, I remove a bottle of Aloe Vera gel, take one last speculative look in the mirror, and exit the comfort of the small room.

Kyle's still sitting where I'd left him, perched on the ledge of the couch, one hand folded in his lap and the other wrapped around the glass I'd given him. There's a cool breeze coming in through the closed curtains, but I still feel feverishly hot, and I wonder if he's sweating and nervous beneath his carefully poised exterior.

I let my gaze wander over the smooth curve of his throat, tilted slightly as he swallows the water in great thirsty gulps. When the glass is empty, he leans forward to set it on the coffee table. Each movement he makes is careful and deliberate, designed to flow smoothly into the other without any room for being clumsy; a strange gesture considering he'd never had any trouble being lithesome in the first place. Especially in bed.

"Don't think about that right now," I scold myself, clenching my teeth in a deliberately harsh manner.

Kyle looks up at me then, his face frozen in a relaxed, inexpressive mask. I feel a lump of emotion catch in my throat and wonder if I'll ever hear him laugh again. At this point, it seems futile to even hope for a smile.


My heart gives a little lurch at the sound of my name on his lips. I swallow to keep it from leaping out my throat and nudge at his empty glass.

"You want more?"

He shakes his head, and I move to sit beside him, keeping a respectable distance. I feel like a threat, or like he thinks so anyway, and I don't want to get too cozy and risk him running out on me. But he doesn't flinch or move away, and instead turns his body to face mine. His knee touches mine lightly, and he lets it rest comfortably there.

"What's that?" He asks quietly, almost shy, and gestures toward the clear plastic bottle in my hand.

I unravel it from my side, glancing down to read the filmy blue lettering as if I myself have no clue what it could be. It seems no time spent apart can alter his power over me; when we're in the same room, he'll forever be all that exists.

"Aloe vera," I answer carefully, gauging his expression. He doesn't so much as blink. I pick at the cap, uncomfortable in the silence. "It's good for... burns. I'm not sure when you got... I mean, I thought maybe you'd-"

He covers my hand with his, hushing my broken sentence. He doesn't say a word until I pull myself together and look up at him.

"Thank you." His touch is warm, his voice strong when he speaks.

I swallow hard and nod, once in acknowledgment, again unable to find my voice lodged within the lump of emotion in my throat.

In any normal instance of the same situation, it'd be expected to pass the gel to him, let him apply it in privacy. But this is Kyle, and the thought of giving him any personal space doesn't even cross my mind. As natural as breathing, I reach out to him, touching the hem of his shirt. His hands on mine stop me.

"I..." He lowers his gaze, worry lines forming between his eyes. The words barely leave his lips. "I'm ashamed."

The whispered confession confuses me for a moment. Then slowly, sullenly, realization sinks in. It was his Jewish nature to think anything that happened to him fell on his shoulders; everything bad was shameful, even if it wasn't his fault.

I pull his chin up, forcing him to look at me. My other hand doesn't let go of his shirt. "Kyle, it's just me. It's just... your best friend. You don't have anything to be ashamed of. Not around me. Not ever."

It's amazing how strong and sure the words come out. They're so easy to believe, and it's so easy to forget everything between the buts and the what-ifs and the used-to-be's when I'm looking in his eyes.

His hand releases mine cautiously, and my own departs from his chin. I reach out to him again; kindly, patiently pull his shirt up and off, careful not to hurt the raw skin underneath. He lifts his arms slowly, allowing me to slip if off completely.

I snap the cap open and squirt a fat dollop in my hand, warming it with my fingers before bringing it to his ribs.

He tenses before my fingers even touch, readying himself for the inevitable sting about to come.

"Nice and careful," I assure him, touching just to the left of the first scar, the biggest one. It stares back at me menacingly, dark and rose colored, blistering on one side. The surrounding skin is puffed up and flushed an unhealthy shade of irritated pink. I trace the prominent shape; two lines bent at the ends, crossing each other in a notoriously evil pattern. Each line is made up of seven individual circles, forming the pattern as a whole. Cigarette burns.

My lips clamp into a hard line. I try to swallow down as much of my mounting anger as possible, not wanting to upset Kyle more than he probably already is. But on the inside, I'm already plotting my revenge. I don't normally like to point my finger without proper evidence, but the fact that cigarettes had been used only makes my first suspect look that much more guilty.

And then some tiny corner of my brain flickers to how completely dead Kyle's become to emotion, and I wonder with sickening uneasiness if he's done this to himself.

I swallow back more vomit and gently trace the jagged, crusted lines on Kyle's skin, leaving a trail of soothing goop behind. His breath hisses through his teeth, his body tensing beneath my touch, but he calms when I finish the actual burns and move to the less tender areas around them. I keep my eyes trained on his skin, careful to keep it as painless as possible; I don't linger any longer than necessary, though there's an undeniable ache within that never wants to stop touching him.

"Okay, you're all set," I recap the bottle and set it next to his empty glass on the table. When I look back at him, I'm startled to see his gaze rendered on my face. He's watching my eyes, studying them.

"I thought... I'd have a million things to say when I..." His voice, a thin piece of glass wrapped in velvet, brittle and plush with tenderness, fades against a sigh. Moisture beads the corners of his eyes, brightening the shamrock colored irises. He gives a half-laugh; breathy with exhaustion, ironically sad. Everything harsh melts away, leaving behind a look so tender that another sob catches in the base of my throat.

"You thought about me?" I croak out, hardly able to believe this is real.

His fingers slide over mine and curl into my palm, giving a firm, reassuring squeeze. "Every day. Every minute. There wasn't a moment that went by that you weren't a part of me. Through everything, you were my happy place. I know that must sound..." He shakes his head; takes a breath.

"I got through it all; the loneliness, the guilt, the sex, the burns because you were always here." He touches his fingertips to his heart, tracing a light circle against the creamy skin. "I swear I could feel you with me, protecting me, helping me stay strong. I could see what it was doing to you, and I... God, I'd just close my eyes and try to communicate with you through my thoughts." He closes them now, laughing bitterly at the memory. "I'd tell you over and over to keep holding on, to not lose faith in me. I promised I'd find a way back to you somehow. No matter what it took, I'd make this up to you."

He brings his hand up to my face, gingerly swabbing away the hot, fat tears drizzling in a slow march down my cheeks.

"What happened?" I whimper, shuddering against the warmth of his touch. I lean into his hand.

His face hardens again, growing grim and spiteful. His hand drops back down to his knee.

"It's Christophe," I decide, trying to keep the anger down. "Isn't it?"

Kyle lowers his eyes. He glares poisonously, but he seems to be seeing something from memory rather than what's right in front of him. He grumbles something beneath his breath.

"What did you say?"

"And Cartman," he hisses, louder, curling his fingers into the thin material of his pants.

"Cartman?" I gasp, feeling my lungs prickle at the sudden rush of oxygen.

"Christophe and Cartman." Kyle practically spits their names, as if talking about something unclean, unholy; something so wicked that the aftertaste it leaves behind is more fowl than licking the menstruating ass of a particularly stinky baboon. "The fucking French scrotum sack and his fat fucking side-dildo, Eric Dickface Cartman."

My vision shrinks to a pinpoint, and the sound of my breathing fills my ears, as if listening to it through a stethoscope. It couldn't be true. It just couldn't. Cartman of our childhood, who we'd spent most of our lives with? Cartman, who we'd always known was a vile piece of shit but never considered marginally dangerous? Cartman, who at times had been the only one to keep me afloat during this past year I'd been nearly drowning?

"Cartman," I murmur, disbelief rocking me to the core. "It... can't be true."

"Oh, it can," Kyle laughs, and the sound is that of a person on the brink of insanity, dangling one foot over the ledge. "We were idiots, Stan. We never gave that vulgar piece of shit the credit he deserved. He's the very essence of evil. He's Satan's fucking demon spawn."

"Why..." I shake my head, try to refocus on his perfect face again. "Why didn't you go to the fucking police?" I demand, angry at him for a reason I'm unsure of. "Why didn't you stop him?"

"You don't think I tried?" he shoots back, snarling. "Give me a little fucking credit here, Stan, I'm not a goddamn pussy."

I grab his shoulders, yanking him forward. His tough-as-nails expression wavers a little. "This isn't about how big your fucking balls are Kyle!" I shout. "I don't give a flying fuck if you're a pussy or not! It doesn't matter if you could stop him or not! Why didn't you get help? Why did you just let him do it?"

He smacks my arms away in one fluid motion, leaving behind a throb that I'm sure will bruise later. "Don't you ever fucking touch me that way again."

There's a violence in his eyes I've never seen before, even in the moments he'd beaten Cartman's ass to a bloody pulp as a hot-tempered child. Something is there that hadn't been a year ago; something that thirsts for vengeance and craves the blood victory would rain. I have no doubt he'd shred my face to ribbons if I crossed him again.

I can feel the shock on my own face, the trill of fear racing up my spine. I lean away slightly. "I- I'm..."

"Oh God," he clutches my hand between his, bows his head and squeezes his eyes closed. "I'm turning into him." He whispers, mostly to himself, and looks back up, pain replacing the cruelness. "I'm so sorry, Stan. Please don't... be afraid of me."

"I'm not afraid of you, Kyle." I promise; though in truth, part of me is terrified of this new side of him. He can't know that, though. Not if he's going to trust to tell me everything that'd happened. I square my shoulders. "But that's what I don't understand. You've always stood up for yourself, Kyle. You never let anyone push you around. Especially not Cartman. You weren't afraid of him."

"And I'm still not."

"Then why-"

"Christophe." The name hangs in the air like the lingering smoke of a recently squelched house fire, thick and dreadful and suffocating. "He's Cartman's fucking puppet-master. Without him, Cartman has no power over me."

But I'm still confused, maybe more so now than just moments before. "But when you're with Christophe... you look... so..."

"If I'm nice to him, he's nice to me." Kyle explains simply. "And the more nice we make, the more he trusts me. The more he trusts me, the more freedom I get. The more freedom I get, the more time I have to figure a way out of this fucking mess." He turns my hand over, studying each curve and line, running his fingers smoothly over the sensitive skin. The movements are loving, gentle caresses that completely defy his biting tone.

I never want him to stop.

Despite the situation, despite everything; he's unknowingly melting my blood down to liquid fire, shorting out my breath, making my heart race. I'm a fucking slave to his touch. I always have been.

With a dignified breath and a mustering of self-restraint, I continue. "But the police-"

"Are fucking imbeciles," He says pointedly. It doesn't escape me that his tone and scornful words are a faint echo of the Mole I had known long ago. The fucked up kid with the fucked up life and the fucked up way of thinking. Like it or not, part of him has rubbed off on Kyle. "They wouldn't be able to help me, Stan. No one can."

"There's a way out of everything, Kyle."

He's shaking his head, laughing again. That manic chortle that seems to taunt death itself, to beg for it. "You don't know Christophe like I do. No one knows Christophe like I do. Not even his repulsively oblivious mother."

"Help me understand." I'm leaning forward again, returning his unmindful little touches. "Tell me everything, Kyle. Please. How did... how did you get trapped into all this? When? How did I miss it?"

"He's very good at what he does." More ice over his tone; more scathing, scalding acid staining the bells of his voice. "And what he does is doesn't get caught."

He blows out a tight breath, the kind usually reserved for birthday candles, and leans his head against the back of the couch, closing his eyes. He's still holding my hand, and his grip is fierce, nearly painful.

"I know you remember Ze Mole from Le Resistance. Fucked up kid, we all knew that, but he was willing to fight with us for justice. He was good at that sort of thing then and he's great at it now. But he's not a kid anymore, Stan, and whatever innocence he may have had back then is ancient dust." He pauses, breathing in tight uncomfortable puffs. "Now he's a hitman."

"Hitman?" I repeat dumbly. "You mean he kills people?"

"Dozens every month."

I stare incredulously at him, wondering how he can be so calm when he says it. "Who does he kill?"

"Everyone. He kills anyone if the price is right. I finally stopped asking about the victims after he told me he'd just killed an entire family of seven. The youngest child was only one year old." He lifts his head then, cracking his eyes open to look at me, laughing, but tears erupt along with the sound. "One year old, Stan. The kid probably couldn't even fucking walk yet."

I can't offer any comfort right now. I'm stunned by this revelation, frozen in terror. Kyle shakes his head, closing his eyes in mourning for the child's lost life.

"You have to understand that he's good at what he does," he emphasizes this, giving each word equal space. "He has to be. He doesn't get caught, Stan. He knows everything about forensics'. Not only does he know how to erase every molecule of evidence that he was ever at the crime scene, he knows how to leave false evidence that get other people convicted almost before they even get a chance in court. There's people on death row, innocent fucking people who are mourning the loss of a loved one, waiting to die because of him."

He sniffles, blinking his teary eyes, and rubs his neck tiredly.

"Kyle I..." I put my hand on his shoulder, swallowing. "I don't know what to say." Which isn't really true.

And you've been fucking this guy? I want to scream, but I bite my tongue, clamping down hard to keep the words back.

Kyle nods absentmindedly, understanding my shock. He swallows the fog of tears filming over his eyes. "Stan...?"

I shudder at the whispered way it ghosts from his lips. "Yeah?"

"Will you..." He swallows dryly. "Will you hold me?" He doesn't look at me, but keeps his eyes averted. He's ashamed again for showing weakness, for asking what he thinks is such a huge favor. "I know I don't have any right to ask you for something so-"

"Shhh." I put my finger across his lips, silencing him. A tingle of desire spears through my arm and shoots across my body, but I push it away and wish I didn't have to.

He's stiff as I fold my arms carefully around his shoulders and ease him into my embrace. I lean back, resting my head on the back of the couch. Kyle slides his arms timidly around my waist, snaking them slowly across my skin. He winces at first, adjusting to appease the burns on his ribs. Once he finds a comfortable position, he slowly loosens up against me, snuggling deeper into my arms.

He's a perfect fit.

"How's that?" I whisper, rubbing my lips across the top of his auburn head. His arms tighten closer around me as he presses his face against my throat. He breathes deep; once in, once out. "Kyle?"

"Just give me a moment," his voice is rough with tears, but the heat of his breath and the movement of his lips against my skin send white-hot desire rippling down my stomach. I swallow a quiet whimper of longing, kiss the crown of his head and cradle him closer, grazing my fingertips along his bare spine. His body quivers with emotion, and he reaches a pale hand up to my face, blindly caressing my cheek. I don't hear him cry, but I can feel the hot flow of tears pattering down my shirt. I pull him in tighter, a gesture of promise that I won't let go.

"Tell me the rest?" I ask after a few minutes, murmuring the request into his hair.

He rubs his nose with the back of his hand, sniffling, then takes a few deep gulps of breath.

"I don't know how long Christophe had been watching me," he finally says, "But last year, when everything good started happening between you and me, I'd noticed that he always seemed to appear places, just kind of... materialize whenever I was alone. It wasn't a lot because I was always with you."

I can hear the sad smile in his voice; and I smile too, remembering those precious times.

"I was always so preoccupied with thoughts about you... about us together, that I didn't stop to think something was fishy about it. I never told you because... well, because you always left me at a loss for words. Nothing existed when I was near you and I just didn't think of it. All I wanted was to be kissing you, touching you."

I chuckle softly, sadly, loving the sound of that although it feels like he's twisting a blade in my gut.

He gives me a squeeze. "Christophe was always so nice to me. He was... so funny. I know it's weird to say, but he's got this playful side, and he used that to win my trust."

Jealousy swirls inside me, licking at my heart like bitter flames. I didn't want him to like any part of this guy, but he does, and it burns.

Kyle continues, oblivious to the sting his words had inflicted. "It was after that second time you and I made love... do you remember that? Sweet Jesus, it was intense." The pitch of his voice rises, sounding awed at the recollection.

"How can I forget?" I ask, my eyes glazing over as the harmony of our moans that day -desperate, loud, and ecstatic- surface my memory.

"I had thought that's what tipped him off. I was walking back from doing that. My clothes were mismatched; I mean, shit, half of them were yours. My lips were swollen from so much kissing, my voice was raspy, my hair was a nest, and I had the stupidest fucking smile on my face that just wouldn't go away." I feel his smile against my throat, but even from that much, I know it's brittle. Then it fades away.

"He drove up beside me in this shiny new car," he whispers, fear lacing the words. "I didn't know him then, not like I know him now, and I just didn't see how angry he was. God, when I think back it's so hard to remember how I didn't see it, that murder in his eyes." He buries his face against my chest and shudders at the memory.

"It's okay," I soothe him, allowing him another moment to collect himself. He turns his head again, uncovering his mouth, but tries to pull himself in tighter against me.

"He told me he'd give me a ride home. I got in. Shit, I wasn't thinking about anything but you. I didn't even notice he was driving in the opposite direction of my house. 'Tell me why you are smiling. Come, what's made you so happy'?"

I'd have reeled back in shock if my head hadn't been supported by the couch. He sounded so much like Christophe; the accent was perfect. They'd spent far too much time around each other, and the realization made me hug Kyle possessively against my chest.

"I didn't understand the question at first," he says. "When he asked again, I didn't even think. I just said Stan. 'Ah,' he said. 'He is your lover, no?' I told him you were. And then I proceeded to tell him everything I loved about you, which is no small list, I assure you. He listened carefully, patiently, smoking a cigarette the whole time. I hadn't even realized he'd drove up the mountain and we were parked between a bushel of trees."

"What happened then?" I press, stamping a fleeting kiss on his forehead, understanding by the way his body had tensed that this was a difficult part of the story for him to relay.

"And then he told me I had exactly one week to break it off with you." Kyle rushes this all on one breath, each word sharp with suppressed tears. "I didn't... I mean, I fucking laughed. I thought it was a bad joke, you know? Like he was mocking me for droning on and on about how perfect you were. And then I realized where we were, and I asked him what was going on. He... grabbed my chin and nearly cracked my neck with how roughly he turned my head. He repeated himself, stating clearly that I had one week to break it off with you. When I asked him why, he said, 'You see, Kyle, you belong to me now. If you don't get rid of that fucking piece of vermin scum-" He breaks off suddenly, sobbing.

I rock him again, murmuring into his hair, telling him it's okay. He tries his best to toughen up, to suck back the tears and hold them in long enough to get it all out, but it still takes some time for his voice to steady enough to speak again.

"If you don't get rid of that fucking piece of vermin scum," he repeats, leaving out the mocked accent this time. "I will kill him, and you will watch me do it. And then to prove he meant what he said, he gave me my first swastika." I feel his eyelashes flutter closed against my skin. "And then he fucked me."

Right after we had made love. I had been fucking floating on a cloud, smiling like a lunatic, the happiest son-of-a-bitch on the planet, and Kyle was being tormented.

And it was all because of me.

I feel sick. Dizzy. It's too much to take in. But Kyle... God. Kyle had lived it.

"At first I wanted to go to the police, but you know how fucking stupid they are. So I thought I'd do something to get some evidence on him. Fool-poof evidence so that something could be done. I couldn't use the burns because he had made sure they were at an angle that looked like I'd done them myself. It didn't take long to figure out how dangerous he really was. And the more I found out, the more I realized there wasn't any way out. He was always watching me, so I couldn't get help from anyone. And when he wasn't watching me, Cartman was. I still don't know how Cartman got involved. All I know is that he was suddenly Christophe's spy. And then Christophe brought me back a few souvenirs from his 'trip.' Pictures of his fucking victims; before, during, and after the murders had taken place. And, Jesus, Stan, all I could see in those pictures was you. I knew then that he could and would do it. So that night, I told you I didn't love you anymore. I thought it was the only way to keep you away from me. It was the only way to protect you."

"God, Kyle." I close my eyes, crying. It had all been so obvious back then, but I was blind to it. I didn't see it because I'd never realized such a fucked-up thing could be happening to him.

I feel him stir in my arms, and suddenly his breath is on my face. "Stan, look at me."

I open my eyes slowly, Kyle coming into view. He strokes my cheek lovingly, his eyes concerned. "None of this is your fault, okay? You didn't know."

"I should have known."

"There wasn't any way you could have." He kisses my forehead, my cheek, my nose. "Every time I so much as looked at you, I'd get another warning."

"A swastika?" I ask, and he nods robotically. "But why swastikas? Was that Cartman's idea?"

"I don't even know if Cartman knows about them," Kyle says, frowning thoughtfully. "Christophe claims to be in love with me, and at the same time he can't stand me. And the reason he can't stand me is because I'm Jewish."

I look at him, my face contorted in confusion, and he smiles sadly.

"You see, Christophe comes from a long line of Jew-haters. His great-grandparents, all of them, were French Nazi collaborationists during the holocaust. They made sure to pass the hate to their children, who passed it to their children, until it finally reached Christophe." He shakes his head, his eyes far away again, lost in his mind. "He's... I almost feel bad for him. He's so conflicted when he looks at me."

His words hold a ring of compassion, and I feel anger burn through me. "You have feelings for him, don't you?"

I see the guilt flash in his eyes before he turns his face away. "You don't spend a whole year fucking someone without developing some sort of emotional attachment."

I throw him off of me so suddenly that he doesn't even have time to gasp before he hits the other side of the couch. "I can't fucking believe you!"

He cringes at the venom in my voice. "It's not anything like what you're thinking, Stan. You know me. You know I even have compassion for the Fat Ass after everything he's done to me. It's in my nature to see the good in people, no matter how fucking microscopic it may be. And Christophe isn't always cruel."

"He fucking murders babies!"

"I never said he wasn't destined for hell. I never said he wasn't seriously fucked up. But part of me can't help feeling a little sorry for him -and that goes for everyone wicked who's ever lived- because there's good and bad in every single one of us, and it saddens me that people let the evil in them take root instead of the good. It's grief for the loss of an innocent soul, not actual feelings for him."

This calms me a little. In truth, I know exactly what he's talking about. But my expression must still be jealous, hostile; Kyle's face saddens.

"Stan, I don't even like the guy. I'm in fucking love with you. I always have been. And I'm in love with you for all the reasons that you aren't him." He takes my hand again. "Look, that car accident I was in was no accident."

My head snaps up, my eyes widening in mortification.

"That's right," he says. "It was a punishment. For calling out your name in bed."

"What?" I hiss. "He did that to you?"

Another quick nod. "I called out your name in bed because I was always pretending it was you. It was the only way I could tolerate it because I can't fucking stand it when he touches me." He sucks in a deep breath, eyeing me cautiously. "Now do you still want to pout that I wish he were a better person?"

My anger is completely gone. I stare at him now, again horrified, but also ashamed. How could I act like such a baby over something that held no significance when so much was in the line of fire here?

"I'm sorry, Kyle." I whisper, lowering my head.

His voice softens. "It's okay. I guess It'd set me off if you seemed to have compassion for someone that vile, too."

Our hands link together again, and I slither my thumb over the softness of his skin. "Do you enjoy it at all? The... sex with him?"

Kyle seems to hesitate a moment, choosing his next words carefully. "I tolerate it. It's something I've learned to live with, something that has to be done although I don't particularly want to. Like mowing the lawn. I don't look forward to it, if I didn't ever have to do it again, I wouldn't miss it."

I consider this, letting it sink in. "And Kenny?" I ask.

His lips part in surprise, and he looks away, uncomfortable. "You know about that, huh?"

"Yes," I have to grind my teeth to keep the emotions down. "I know about that."

Kyle sighs wearily, exhausted. "For some reason, Christophe isn't wary of him. He sees no threat and it doesn't bother him when we hang out together. Because of that, Kenny isn't in any danger. Unless we got caught in the act, of course." He adds this last part grudgingly, not wanting to upset me again.

"Kenny and I are friends; we love and respect each other. Because of all that, he makes the perfect candidate to go to for no-strings-attached intimacy with another person. I can't explain to you how dire the need for that kind of contact is when you're being fucked every day by someone whose idea of love means control in its darkest form. It's a relief to be treated like an equal when you're sharing your body that way. It's more like an escape, a drug. Kenny isn't love or pleasure to me. He's morphine."

"You hate it that much?" I ask, blinking at his descriptions.

He laughs again, that same hollow laugh that's becoming all too familiar. "It's not like when you and I made love. Shit, I never thought you could die from something feeling too good, but I swore I was going to that day. The pleasure was almost too intense to handle." He pushes my bangs to the side, his smile fading again. "It's not good anymore. It's never good. It's always like some fucking nightmare and I can never wake up soon enough."

My hand finds his knee, grazing it softly. His eyes refocus on me again, instantly alert at the touch.

"It can be good again, Kyle." I tell him, whispering. "I know it can be good again."

He stares back at me, his eyes darkening with unmistakable lust. "With you it would be."

I was already getting hard. And the fact that I could see his breathing becoming heavier only made me want it more. I reach out to one of his curls, hanging with a careless charm around his face, and twist it lovingly in my fingers.

We move forward at the same time, crushing our lips together, taking only a moment to find the perfect position in each others arms. I part his lips with my tongue, whimpering at the sweet taste of him. But there's still a hint of reluctance on his side.

Holding the kiss, I lower him slowly back and adjust myself comfortably on top of him. I cradle his hip in one hand and his jaw in the other, holding him still beneath me. My tongue glides blissfully against his, and I can't help the moan that escapes me when he starts kissing me back; shyly at first, then bolder, hungrier. His arms lock around my neck, holding me against him. Our kissing becomes increasingly passionate, wild; our tongues moving in immaculate synchronization together.

I break away breathlessly, trailing hot kisses down his jaw and over his throat. He gasps when I suck against the milky skin, tasting every inch as I work my way further down. I trail back up the other side of his throat and scratch my nail gently across one of the pink nubs on his chest. He lets out a moan this time, loudly, and slithers his hands down my chest and around my back. They sneak their way further down, stopping at my ass and pulling me hard against him. I pause to swallow a moan, then move further down. His breathing becomes dramatically heavier as I tease the sensitive, pert circles on his chest with my mouth; licking, sucking, nipping.

"Stan?" He asks urgently, lifting his head and stopping me when I place the tip of my tongue in the shallow indention between his ribs.

I stare into his panicked eyes, trying to blink the cloud of passion from mine and properly register what wrong move I had made. "What's wrong?" I ask, more breath than sound.

His eyes grow more concerned. "I don't like... I don't want my stomach touched."

I blink at him, still confused at first, then glance down at his torso.


The majority of them cover his stomach, but a few white scars spill up his ribs. I circle a finger over it, then bless it with a soft kiss.

"Stan, don't," he begs, tears springing to his eyes.

"Listen to me, Kyle." I touch his face, waiting until he reopens his tightly closed eyes. "I love every part of you. I want every part of you. Scars or none, you'll always be perfect to me. Please, Kyle, let me make it good again. Let me make it all feel good again."

He blinks away the tears, relaxing against the couch, tenser than before.

I use my fingers first, gliding them up and down his stomach in sensual circles, over to each side, down to the top of his pants. I stick my finger just inside and slide it from one hip to the other, smiling when his breath catches. Next I use my mouth, dropping kisses down to his belly button. I swirl my tongue around the perimeter and then dip it inside. His breath hisses through his teeth as I plunge in and out, soft and carefully. My fingers work open his pants, and I direct my kisses downward, nuzzling my face between the parted material. When I lift my head, his fingers dig into my hair.

"No, don't stop," he gasps out.

I smile up at him. "Not even to kiss you?"

He takes only a fraction of a second to consider this, then eases up and pulls my shirt off when I crawl over him. Our lips reconnected, moving again in a lustful dance. He slides one of his legs between mine, rearranging himself so that the front of our bodies touch just right. I move myself slowly against him as we continue our kiss, swallowing down each others moans, but we break it shortly after, needing oxygen.

"Does that feel good?" I whisper in his ear.

"Yes," he cries. "Oh, God, yes."

I move harder against him, pressing my open lips to his neck, breathing deep against his skin. He squeezes his legs together, hugging my thigh tightly between his. Then he tilts his hips up, then down, up, then down.

I bury my face in his shoulder to muffle an especially loud grunt. "Kyle, if you keep doing that, it's all going to be over."

"Mmm," he whines helplessly, bucking his hips up harder, then stills suddenly. "No. Stop, stop, stop."

"What?" I ask, lifting my head, hoping to God he isn't going to tell me this is a mistake.

"Not like this," he says. "I want you inside me."

I blink down at him, a little surprised. "Are you sure?"

"Yes." He traces his finger against my lips. "I need this, Stan. I need you."

Our kiss is sweeter when we come together again, and I take my time, loving him deeply and thoroughly, making sure each touch gives him the uttermost pleasure possible; making it last as long as possible.

When I feel I can't hold back any longer, I grit my teeth, press my face into his neck, and make him scream my name.