I'm sadly still a little behind on getting the next full chapter of OLU finished, but in the meantime, please accept this outtake/prequel. I wrote it months and months ago when I was trying to get deeper into Subward's head. It's also a response to how I feel BDSM (and male submission in particular) is often portrayed in popular culture.

I envision this taking place about a year before Chapter 1 of the story (i.e. a year before Edward met Bella) so realize it's not exactly going to be happy.

Lines of dialog quoted from Bones are from the episode entitled "The Girl In the Freezer." Bones belongs to whoever the hell makes Bones. Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I belong to antiaol and bmango.


Our Lives Unbound Prequel: My Life In Chains:

With the silencing of my computer's fan, my apartment is utterly still. Stagnant.

Pushing away from my desk, I turn off the monitor and stare with eyes full of dread at the remaining hours of my evening. Already, I can feel the pointless passage of time and the continued hum of isolation.

I do not know how to break free.

I do not know what to do.

Tugging at greasy strands of hair, I rest my elbows on my knees and close my eyes, staring at the nothingness found in the creeping loneliness of my own stunted mind. I stay that way for a while, just breathing and thinking.

And trying not to think of the things which have been haunting me.

Standing at last, I make my way to my kitchen, the bare sparseness of it taunting me as I go about assembling another meal I have no taste for. Shivering at the chill of ice cubes tumbling into my glass, I breath deeply at the sound of crackling as I pour in more whiskey than I should.

But not as much as I would like to.

As the microwaves hums, I stand in the doorway to the kitchen and nurse my drink, watching the silent telephone and the locked-up door. Even though by now I should know to ignore them both.

Palming myself through my pants, my mind is unwillingly drawn back yet again to the disaster that was the previous weekend - to how a strange fit of anger at myself and my life pierced the fog of lonely grey and sent me scrambling desperately out of the safe cage of these entombing walls. My body shivers at the memory of touch, my hands numb from too much alcohol and my lips bruised as they sucked at a mouth too sickly sweet with gloss, all my awkward discomfort rising as I rose up on my knees above the naked body of a girl whose name I can't even remember. I grimace and harden simultaneously as I relive the wet heat, sliding and embarrassment as I peaked after barely half a dozen strokes, coming and cursing and shame overwhelming me as I drunkenly fell off of her, trying to reciprocate the act of pleasure, only to be batted away.

The microwaves dings.

I pulse.

And I disgust myself.

Eating alone at a table that I don't even know why I own, I swallow over and over, but it does nothing to force the disappointment down, longing for connection and some way out of this stifling space.

I have done this before. So many times I have almost given in to some idea of moving past myself and my broken speech and self-imposed confines, and a small handful of times I have even taken the steps out into that terrifying night. And each of those times, if I defy the odds enough to find a partner, it has ended in nothing but a shameful and too-quick orgasm between scornful thighs. A failure to exchange phone numbers.

Another night alone feeling even worse than before, my need higher.

My unsatisfied arousal harder.

I hear my fork clattering to my plate as I clench my fists, punching the table.

I need a way out.

And I need to come.

Pulling my erection from my pants, I have already taken myself in hand by the time I arrive at my bedroom, making idle passes of my palm over rigid, seeping flesh. As always, it is a strange thing to be taking my misery out on myself this way, emotion and desolation rising in my chest with almost as much intensity as the sensation building in the nerves that are screaming for attention. I want to sob. To fuck.

To feel something other than alone.

Pulling a magazine from my night stand, I prop myself up on my hip so that I may flip through the pages and continue my assault on my own tender flesh at the same time. Images pass through me, and there is a pang in my chest as I realize how little real flesh I have ever felt or seen, how foreign so much of this is to my pathetic experiences.

I realize, too, how little the majority of these images even do for me.

Rejecting out of hand the ones of men biting and fucking at passive forms, I search with hungry eyes and aching flesh for something else. Something more.

With a gasping inhale, my fingers pause both on the pages and around the base of my cock. And I stare.

It's a simple picture, really. A woman. Strong. Sexy. She is only half naked, too-large breasts spilling over black leather, a bare pussy showing beneath the edge of the corset.

The thin pad of a riding crop poised beneath the pouty swell of her fake, red lips.

And behind her, a man, half his body obstructed by her figure.

His face and his look of desire obstructed by a blindfold.

Hissing lightly, I feel so much of the emptiness in my chest being replaced by the stinging pain of giving in, of allowing myself to be aroused by things I never wanted to want. There's hot pleasure and a sickening sensation as my mind rushes to complete the scene, her ass in my view as she rides him in every way imaginable, his hands helpless.

Bound.

At that idea I groan out loud, pumping myself harder and twisting my hand repeatedly over the head in a punishing rhythm that is excruciating ecstasy. Over and over again, my hand rushes over my flesh, another stab in my abdomen as I try to push myself toward my peak, but remembering how I fell off of it too easily with an actual girl.

Remembering how I failed.

Remembering shame.

And imagining a more visceral – a more physical pain.

With a single cry, I release, come pulsing down my hand and onto my stomach, and for a moment my mind is quiet.

Until everything else comes rushing in.

Disappointment and emptiness.

Disgust.

I reach over to my side, searching blindly until my hand connects with the box of tissues I am sad enough to keep for just this purpose, to try in vain to scrub away the tell-tale signs of my masturbation. Almost whimpering, I swab at myself roughly, relieved to be done with this task and yet feeling no true release from myself. From my guilt and my unhappiness.

From the pained continuance of my own sad company.

Tucking myself away, I rise and stash the magazine away, striding out into the kitchen to make another cocktail that I shouldn't have. With the cool glass in my still slightly shaking hand, I settle down on my couch and let my thumb play over the remote. Hollow people flash across the screen, caricatures and characters, and none of them are real.

Nothing is real.

Downing the rest of my drink, I let the burn follow me down into the bowels of this night, my eyes fuzzing over and numbness slowly spreading. Channels flip past me, but even without the alcohol, I am beyond caring.

Eventually I settle on a station, recognizing a face I have seen before. It's a rerun of a crime procedural I have seen a couple of times, the distance in it feeling safe somehow. When the title flashes across the screen, I chuckle to myself.

Bones.

Something then to make my skeleton of a life feel even less complete.

In careless pre-occupation, I watch the opening scenes, a gruesome body and witty banter all playing out across the screen. I smile faintly at the main character and the intimations of her loneliness, her rational, detached mind keeping her emotions locked away.

I frown when the scene shifts to one of red sheets.

Naked flesh.

Knowing that even the most detached of characters on television get their chances at connection.

The bitter bile rises even higher as I pour another glass of whiskey and sit back against the arm of the couch. I zone out a little bit, but am snapped back to attention when I see a flash of metal.

For while it is not unusual to see a pair of handcuffs on a crime show, these handcuffs are different.

These handcuffs are for sex.

The illicit concept of it makes my spent cock stir, the deepest pits of desire that I keep so carefully hidden away breaking through the depths of my own misgivings and the uncertain, guilty feelings I have wrapped them in.

I hear the main character's words, an anthropological discussion of sex and play, stating with clinical fascination, "Seeking sexual gratification through the manipulation of power. Probably the oldest of fetishes, master-slave. It's all about dominance."

Rapt and passive, I watch with growing arousal, only to have my breath punched from my lungs as her partner, in all his gruff masculinity, modeling everything I know that, as a man I should aspire to, scoffs.

"Well this sort of thing only comes up when the bloom goes off the rose, if you know what I mean... You know when the regular stuff... when it gets old you need to spice it up or it's over. If the sex is good you don't need any help."

Shivering and shriveling, I wonder if that is my problem indeed. If it is my own ineptitude that makes me crave things, longing with an appetite I don't know how to sate.

If I will never be adept at the "regular stuff."

If I will never feel normal with a woman.

My eyes are drawn in sudden attention to the screen again to find that the scene has changed, an interrogation room now occupying the frame. With the same arrogance and derision, the male partner posits a hypothesis, and I find myself sitting up straighter.

"Here's what I was thinking: female, dominant, strapped for cash meets wealthy teenager on the outs with her parents, convinces her submissive husband to hold her for ransom."

For a moment, I feel dizzy.

Submissive husband.

And for a scant fraction of a second, as the camera pans to a woman with fire in her eyes, I try to picture it. My body, naked and on my knees.

There is a brief interchange, and then the woman appears again. And while she's not particularly physically attractive, her words cut me to the core.

"Why don't you come at me? Are you threatened or do I turn you on?"

To myself, I whisper, "B-b-b-both."

Because for me, it is always both.

My attention is only half on the program as it moves back to its more usual rhythm. Fully aroused again, I am contemplating possibilities I so rarely allow myself to consider, all my will bent so much of the time toward trying to be normal, even though I know that I am anything but.

And I can almost imagine it.

Almost taste a kind of satisfaction that has always seemed unattainable.

But then a harsh voice emanates from the speaker. A voice that is chastising.

Cold.

Cruel. And not at all in the way that I would like for it to be.

"When these S&M perverts walk on this, it'll be on your head."

The speaker, a dark-haired woman who, besides a certain sharpness about her face, is actually somewhat appealing to me, huffs in anger and then turns away.

But her words are still with me, even as my thumb numbly moves on the remote to turn off the TV.

Perverts.

Perversion.

Sick.

I have heard the words before, but they are a harsh splash of cold water on the warmth that had almost begun to take the chill off of the most frightened, small-feeling parts inside of me.

Without another look, I lift myself off the couch, depositing my empty glass in the sink and moving toward my bathroom.

Brushing my teeth in slow, distracted movements, I stare at myself in the mirror. At the hollow eyes and pale skin. The skinny, unattractive expanse of my chest.

And yet I still see more.

I see the ugly, unlovable parts within.

The pervert.

I spit and splash cold water on my face before stumbling to my room, grabbing the magazine I'd stared at while pathetically giving in to the unmet need inside my body and throwing it in the waste bin. Turning off the lights, I strip and lay myself naked on my bed.

Wondering, there in the dark, if there is a world in which I could possibly hate myself more than I already do.

#~~#~~#

I wake with sunlight streaming in and music blaring from somewhere near my head. Wiping the drool from my mouth and feeling the pain of waking all over again, I roll myself in the sheets, fumbling until my hand connects with the plastic surface of my phone.

The time flashes at me as I answer, and I know that another night of going to bed half drunk on loneliness and liquor caused me to forget to set an alarm. That the day is even more wasted than usual.

And yet there is still so much of it to face.

My thumb finally connects with the button to answer the call, and I place the speaker at my ear with a wince.

"Hhhhhhe-l-lo?"

At the sound of my own voice, I drag my hand down the side of my face before jabbing the heel of my palm against my temple in a series of fast, hard raps.

"Edward, man, how are you?"

My stomach sinks and my eyes close as I curl instinctively into a ball.

"Fffff-f-fine," I lie, but even I can hear the flatness in my voice.

My brother pauses.

"Seriously man, you don't sound good. Are you sure you're OK?"

There is nothing but silence as unbidden tears blur my vision, hanging precariously in the corner of my eyes as I open them.

Staring as always at nothing.

And I don't know what to do.

But then my mouth begins to speak as I cover my face with my hand.

"Nnnnno, Em-m-m-mett. I'm not. I'm really, r-r-r-really nnnnnnot."

#~~#~~#

My brother's hand is warm on my shoulder, but as always it is somehow too big, everything about him too close to me, and I withdraw. He is used to this bizarre behavior by now and laughs it off, pressing a beer into my hands and leading me down a corridor toward his den.

In the entryway to the living room, he pauses to wave at his wife, who looks at me with the same dismissive expression she always has while wrestling with the toddler on her lap.

"You good, Rose?"

She makes a face and fusses with something on my nephew's chin. "Yeah, just don't forget that we have to be at your parents' at three."

Emmett nods, but my stomach just sinks further. If he notices, he ignores it, and soon we find ourselves sitting side my side at his computer. I resist the urge to roll my eyes at his forcing me to do this here, when I am the one always 'glued to a screen,' as he puts it so eleoquently.

I recall his statement from our lunch the previous week, shortly after I'd finally confessed to the desperate state of my wretched mind.

"Because, Edward," he'd scoffed. "If I left it up to you it would never get done."

I look on with trepidation and skepticism as he begins filling out a profile with basic information, uploading a picture from when I was an usher at his wedding that no longer even looks like me. I want to protest, but he'll have none of it, assuring me that it's alright to post a picture that's a little more attractive than reality.

Silenced, I sink back into my chair, biting my tongue before I remind him that clearly nothing is attractive about me in reality.

"Isss th-there a ssss-spot on there ffff-for 'is a ssst-tuttering id-d-diot?'" I murmur, but even my not-quite-joke can't pass my useless lips unmangled.

There's a pause, the clacking on the keyboard silenced as Emmett thinks. He is still faced away from me when he says quietly, "You know I hate it when you talk about yourself that way."

Even more nervous now, I gulp down half my beer before resting it in my lap and fussing with the label.

Near silently, I whisper, "And you kn-know that I hhhhate … t-talking." I put the bottle down and take my head in my hands. "Hhhhow the hell am I supp-p-posed to t-talk to a g-g-g-girl?"

He turns and waits until I meet his eyes.

"The only way you get better at anything," he says, clapping his hand against my shoulder and looking at me encouragingly.

"Practice."

#~~#~~#

The whiskey burns as it goes down, a niggling voice in the back of my head reminding me that it is a bad idea.

But then again, absolutely nothing about this adventure is a good one.

Slamming the shot glass down on the counter, I retreat to my bathroom one more time to check myself, staring at my own still-damp but already messy hair, my too-bony cheeks and the circles that still linger beneath my bloodshot eyes. I straighten my shirt and check my fly before turning away from my own judgmental stare.

It is with a profound sense of resignation that I make my way out to my living room and pull on my jacket. I stuff my wallet and my keys into my pockets and sigh as I turn out the light.

Bathed in darkness, I still wonder if this is right.

But after so much time spent bereft, going on a blind date is at least doing something.

Resolutely, I jerk open the door. And then finally I step out into the light.