Matthew was too afraid, too keyed up to even consider sleeping.

Matthew never slept better than when he was resting in his Russian's arms.

He couldn't stop staring at the intimidating, large psychopath laying across from him.

He traced the scars up and down his back, feeling the cold skin flexing under his fingertips.

He was ugly. His face was hard and brutish, cruel and childish with harsh features.

He'd never seen a more welcoming face, a calming one. Maybe his perception of him had simply changed over the years. Maybe. All he knew for sure was that not seeing his lover's face would've hurt more than he could possibly imagine, even more than that moment, so long ago, when he'd been standing on the edge of that cliff, staring at death.

Matthew was afraid of him.

Now he was afraid for him. He worried about him. Sometimes when the man's eyes roamed up and down his body, they'd darken with guilt. But Matthew didn't want him to be guilty, not one bit. The bruises don't hurt, Ivan, he'd say. They're a symbol of love and if I didn't have them, I wouldn't know if you loved me. He wasn't a masochist, of course not. He didn't enjoy pain. But he did enjoy seeing just how passionate his lover was. In a cold world, he enjoyed feeling the vicious, ferocious heat of love, of passion, unrestricted and uncontrolled. It was like standing too close to a fire. Warm and electrifying. It made him feel more like than he had in years. No screw that. It made him feel more alive tha he'd ever felt before.

All he could think about was his brother. And his friend. Gilbert.

The names made him pause. Gilbert. Alfred. Two names. Two people he'd loved. Of course he still loved them now and he missed his brother terribly. Being away from him hurt. But being away from Ivan?

It would've killed him.

Were they thinking about him?

He'd seen in the news. They were. They were looking for him, Gilbert and Alfred, some friends of theirs, and his father and mother. It had been many years, but they were still looking for him, even though the media and the police had given up. But most importantly, Alfred was still looking. Matthew had seen his beloved brother on screen. So tired. So sad. The pain in his eyes made him appear older, more careworn. Matthew wished he could see his brother smile again. He looked much older than he was. It was depressing to see such an energetic person look so dejected and stressed.

He looked so lost.

Looking at his brother, Matthew wondered if he should feel guilty. Bad. Regretful.

Guilty, yes, even if he shouldn't, he would feel guilty, so that was one emotion he did allow himself to feel.

But regretful? No, he couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't take back what had happened so many years ago. It hadn't been a willing choice of his, back then, but Ivan had given him his choice: stay or leave. It was completely his decision. And he'd chosen to stay. He couldn't feel regretful about his decision, just couldn't/

And he couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't take it back, no matter how much his heart hurt when he saw his brother crying on camera.

Will I die? Will he hurt me? But most importantly, do I want to die?

The thought of death. Matthew used to entertain it constantly. Death used to always be on his mind, not always on the forefront, but lurking in the background, ready to come out when he was alone and in need of companionship and getting nothing but loneliness and the sharp pain of knowing he had no one.

But no longer.

Now, he had someone he loved, cared about with his entire being and more. Someone who not only loved him, but needed him, like the earth needs the sun, like the dark needs the light, like a fire needs oxygen, like a human needs warmth.

Perhaps it was foolishness.

Perhaps it was stupidity, naivety, childishness that convinced him that Ivan, his Russian, his lover, his boyfriend, his savior in more ways than one, was all he needed, the only reason he needed to push the thought of death away and push it away for good.

Perhaps it was loneliness.

How far do people go to escape loneliness? Perhaps companionship is all we, as humans want, all we really need. Perhaps the love and passion and the feeling of knowing you're precious to someone else are all the reasons we need to keep breathing.

How far would you go? Would you throw yourself at the first person who offered his love? Clinging to something is better than being left with nothing. If you lived in a world devoid of companionship, of love, of the warmth of another, then is it better to be alone or better to have something, anything at all? Stand for something or you'll fall for anything? Love someone, something, anything and get rid of the loneliness, get rid of the feeling of emptiness and nothingness? Was that falling?

Had Matthew fallen? Been so desperate and so pathetic as to fall in love with his captor? Stockholm Syndrone? Was that it? Did he have a disorder, some other mental issue that some psychiatrist could "cure?"

He didn't think so. It certainly didn't feel that way.

Logically speaking, perhaps it was a disorder.

But he'd found that logic could go to hell.

Who needs logic? Logically, an argument can be made for any case. It's deciding which side that is the right one that is the important question to ask before taking one. He didn't believe he was wrong.

Matthew didn't believe he'd fallen.

He'd been falling, yes, but Ivan had grabbed him, caught him, and saved him from the pit he'd almost drowned in.

Nothingness. Emptiness. Hollowness.

The absence of anything.

Lack of meaning, lack of love, nothing but numbness.

When the numbness faded away, there was nothing left but pain to fill the void of the space where emotions should've been. God, he knew that pain. Not just the emptiness, but all of it.

He couldn't go back to that. Ivan had purposely pulled him out and away from it. It was the right decision, in fact, it had been his only decision. How could it possibly have been wrong?

"What are you thinking of?" the man whispered.

"Love. Loneliness. Pain," Matthew replied, shrugging casually.

His lover turned over and stared at him, his violet eyes, identical to his, staring deep into his soul. But he no longer had to dig for answers or search for his thoughts. He knew Matthew, inside and out, up and down, right to left. He knew everything from his deepest feelings to his happiest moments, all of which had to do with being with him. It made him happy to know the one he loved so well. Or no, that wasn't quite right. It was knowing every part of him, the intimacy, that allowed him to love him so well, so thoroughly.

"Why?"

"I saw Alfred on TV today. I was just thinking about... how badly I want to tell him to move on. Find someone meaningful. Fall in love. Maybe start a family. I want to tell him... about what I've found. You know?"

The Russian wrapped his arms around him and put his head down on his shoulder thoughtfully.

"Maybe you should."

"You know you could."

"Should I?"

"Maybe."

"Maybe."

Matthew opened his mouth, exhaling softly.

"You know I can see it in your eyes. You're an open book."

"Only to you, my sweet sunflower."

"Hmm-hmm."

"What is it you can see, Matvey?"

"I can see that you feel guilty. About this. About us," Matthew murmured, pressing his lips to Ivan's collarbone.

"Not guilty," Ivan protested. "Just bad. That Alfred doesn't even know what happened to you."

"And he doesn't need to know," Matthew said sharply and abruptly. "I just-"

Want to tell him that I'm okay. That he doesn't need to keep looking for me. That I forgive him for... everything. That he doesn't need to feel guilty anymore. That he's allowed to be happy.

"You should tell him."

Matthew smiled softly, his arms wrapping around Ivan's waist, and pressing himself closer to the other's skin.

"I will."

Should, could, would.

Yes, he'd tell Alfred. Not about everything. There were some things he didn't need to know.

But he would tell Alfred all the important things.

The necessary things.

The things he'd learned.

Or.

Maybe.

Just maybe. He just wanted Alfred to know he loved him.

Yes, he needed to tell him, remind him that he loved him.

All those years ago, he still remembered Alfred asking for forgiveness and telling him.

I love you. And don't you forget it.

Matthew smiled. He could almost hear Alfred saying that. Love ya' and don't you ever forget it!

Perhaps Alfred needed to be reminded, the way he'd needed to, way back when.

Maybe Alfred just needed him to tell him he loved him.


...

...

Um...not sure... what to say. I normally don't do five chapter stories... and my last one was kind of crappy. So, uh, want to tell me how you feel about this one? Disappointed it wasn't longer, more exciting?

More elaboration or details or more of a plot? Felt it was too quick? Or left you hanging?

Basically I'm asking whether you think it's good or bad. So review please.