The shower was standing room only, though there was more than enough room for the both of us had Nox chosen to join me. But in his state of mind, I’m sure the fact that I was naked in his bathroom didn’t even cross his mind. I actually knew it didn’t, despite being a room apart I never stopped listening to him.
I listened while he was consoled by his cat. A cat? I wasn’t sure about that, but the cat seemed to get him a lot more than I fucking did. But eventually, his mind became laser-focused again while he worked on the meal he was preparing. He slipped a few times and he fell down that rabbit hole. I had listened to a lot of messed up people, and I had a few nightmares about thoughts and people jumping. Thank fucking god that I didn’t listen while they actually did the deed.
Here in the city, those thoughts were widespread considering the number of people here. It felt like it was more than elsewhere but it probably wasn’t.
Nox had cooled down enough that I turned the water off. I’d been clean for a while now. I just stood there letting the warm water stream down my body. The door opened a hair and Nox dropped the neatly rolled clothes to the floor, “Figured you might want these now.” He closed the door behind him. He didn’t even try to steal a look or even openly stare. I should have been offended but his mind was on trying to stay sane. I guess I couldn’t blame him for not taking advantage of the chance he had. He was also worried about his food. Food that smelled amazing from the bathroom.
I pulled on his clothes and my boxer briefs. Going commando in someone else’s clothes didn’t really appeal to me. I hadn’t really thought about how I was going to get dressed if he hadn’t brought me clothes. I could have walked out naked, or wrapped in a towel. That might have lightened the mood. But Nox was courteous at the least.
I opened the bathroom door and stood in the doorway watching him cook. He really was in his element just standing behind the stove watching the pancakes. He was deft when he flipped the first one and the then second that was on the cast iron griddle. I always made a mess flipping the pancake over but his remained perfect. I wanted to ask him how if he never made them before, but his mind went to things I’d just washed away. “You have to stop Nox.”
He looked up at me in confusion. “Stop thinking like that.” He dropped his gaze and the last thought I heard was he was going to make me mad doing it. It wasn’t in vengeance or some sort of payback, it was sad and pathetic and then he was gone. Completely and utterly gone from my mind. It was like that link was severed and it hurt. It hurt so much to feel nothing when he was feeling so much.
I started walking towards the kitchen, “That’s not much better.” I reached the coffee pot and asked, “Can I have a cup of coffee?”
He looked at me still dazed and nodded slowly as he spoke. “Make yourself at home.”
“It really hurts you to shield so tightly?” I wished I could take the pain away. Fuck I needed to hear him so I could get the information Poet wanted.
He shrugged. “Dorian told me it’s because I have too many kinds fighting each other. But even he is only speculating.”
“Why do you think it happens?” I asked more to distract myself as I looked around for coffee mugs.
He didn’t answer me, and since I wasn’t looking at him I hadn’t seen any non-verbal communication he’d done, “It would be easier if you would just let me read you.”
He shook his head and flipped a pancake into the air. He was so elegant. The lean tone to his muscles as they did such a simple task. He was gorgeous if nothing else I was going to enjoy his body if we ever got past all the shit. “No, that’s not a good idea.” He said. The defeat was great in his voice.
I opened the cabinet above the coffee pot, “I should have looked above the coffee pot first.” I hadn’t been thinking about coffee cups, just helping him.
I made him a cup of black coffee and set it down next to him then fixed my own. Everything smelled so good but the man doing the cooking was so broken. I set my cup down next to his and stood behind him, trapping him in front of me. I kissed the back of his neck where the elegant dragon tattoo was. He shivered as I spoke, “Nox, let the shield go.”
I knew how to manipulate him. I had always known the simplest way to get him to do what I wanted was to speak in a firm voice. He’d been that way as a child too, even before we had become involved. If I didn’t want to do something I just had to tell him to do something else. I’d gotten tired of building block towers. I wanted to do something else. And even in the dreams, he obeyed without question. But this time when he listened he rushed into my head so fast I gasped. “Fuck!” His knees buckled and I held him while trying to stay away from him, “You okay?” I asked.
He nodded, barely moving his head, “I let go of everything and I didn’t mean too.”
“Okay,” I said as he started plating the food. “Everything smells great.”
“Thanks. I need to get the bacon out of the oven.”
I took a step back and away from him so he could open the oven door and grab the bacon. He reached inside without an oven mitt and was grabbing the hot oily pan, I reached out and yelled his name, “Nox..”
He was relatively unphased but looked a little guilty as he set the pan down. “I forget that normal people can’t suck the heat out of things. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
I grabbed his hands and turned them palms up so I could see they weren’t burnt for myself, and I pushed the door closed to the oven with my foot. “Don’t do that again please?” He had about given me a heart attack.
“I’ll try to remember.”
He pulled his hands from mine and asked me “Can you get three plates?”
I grabbed three plates effortlessly from the cabinet I knew they were in. I started plating my food on to a plate, I didn’t see a fork and I didn’t want to get it, they weren’t that hot anyway. I grabbed myself three pancakes, and a few very hot slices of bacon. And licked my fingers, “Alex?” Nox asked and I heard the apology in his head.
“Don’t say it, Nox.”
“But I am.”
I went to the fridge and grabbed the ice cream before I answered him, “Me too.” I stepped into his personal space and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. It was more effort than it should have been to pull away and make my last statement on the subject, “We’ll both try harder.” I scooped out some vanilla ice cream and dropped it on top of my pancakes. I was going to enjoy this meal. I took it around to go sit down and I heard Nox’s thought, he wasn’t annoyed I’d only made my plate, but I explained, “I would have made your’s but I don’t know what you’ll eat.” I said as I sat down.
I heard him make his plate and make his way to the couch where he sat down next to me. He was comforted by touch so I shifted closer pressing my leg to his. I lifted my fork of pancakes and ice cream to my lips and let out a small sound. I could die eating this every day but fuck it was good. His steak had been excellent but this was better in my opinion.
I noticed Nox wasn’t eating but he didn’t seem distressed in his head, a little chaos, but nothing outside the norm, I asked “Not hungry?”
“I’m just enjoying watching you eat.”
His response surprised me., “It’s not that interesting.”
“It is if you are me.” Nox grabbed my hand and placed it in his lap where I could feel his cock hard against my fingers. He continued. “Trust me. It’s very interesting watching your mouth move and listening to all the little sounds you make.”
Fuck, my fingers were limp against him but I was fighting every ounce of my being to not squeeze him and make him groan and squirm. I wanted to which is why I pulled my hand away with a smirk. “I think I’m keeping my hands to myself for a little while longer.” Besides my food would get soggy and it would be wasted, and there was no way I was wasting any of it. “The ice cream will melt and the pancakes will get soggy,” I told him though I was sure he hadn’t been offended by my hand moving away.
Nox held out his hand over my plate, “I can fix that for you.”
I had no clue what he was doing but I went in for another bite and there was a distinct difference between where I sat and my plate. I looked at him and realized he was using magic, “That’s cheating.” I said.
He laughed and then the room got colder. Ophelia made a disgruntled sound and the door opened for her as she left. I stared after her as Nox yelled at her through the closed door. “I didn’t want you here anyway.”
“Are you trying to freeze me now?” I asked rubbing my arms. I didn’t particularly like the cold.
I could think of a few things to keep warm, “I might need some warming up.”
He smirked. “I thought you were interested in your pancakes.”
“You were interested in my pancakes.”
“I was interested in your mouth and the little sounds you were making.”
His comment went straight to my cock. Which spurred my eating. Though I really would have liked to enjoy the pancakes more. If I played this right though I could easily have them every day. But I was getting colder, “Can you put the room back to normal temperature please?” I said. I really didn’t like being cold.
“I’m sorry.” He nodded as the room got decidedly warmer.
Even as he smiled at me his thoughts were racing towards my lips, to kissing me. “You have a one-track mind.”
“Sex, sex and more sex?” He joked and I couldn’t help but chuckle.
.”Are you going to eat?” I asked concerned he wasn’t going to partake of his own cooking, “I’ll eat later.” He said. I doubted that.
I still felt a chill on my arms and legs, the room was taking longer to warm back up then it did to cool down. I shifted to the side of the couch and crooked a finger at Nox, “Come here.”
His breath caught and he moved slowly over me. He held himself above me and I couldn’t help but make use of the view, his long body working to not touch mine, “How long can you stay like that?” I asked. I wondered if he could stay like that while I made use of the space between us.
He shrugged, “I’m usually on the bottom, I don’t know.”
“Oh really?” I teased. It was a challenge now. Though after I had cupped his face and pulled him closer to kiss deeply his body sagged to mine. I broke the kiss and teased up at him, “Not so strong after all.”
He pressed his face to my neck and hid from me. His thoughts were spiraling again. He tried to speak “I…” But had to stop and take a deep breathe while he collected himself. “I can hold for as long as you demand it, Alex.”
I sat up a little more pulling myself out from underneath him. “Did someone make you do that?” I didn’t like knowing things. I read the things that went through his mind.
He shrugged. “I did a lot of things for Adrian because he told me to.” And those thoughts of what he’d done with this older man had me rolling.
“Your therapist?” I asked trying not to growl, this wasn’t a therapy I’d ever heard about, more like child abuse.
He nodded still resting against my body distracting me as he spoke, “Sorta. I told you I was taught to be submissive.”
I growled, “Something about power and how men treated you.” His so-called therapist was his Dom. What the fuck, but in those moments he also wanted to leave, wanted to go back and curl up and beat himself down until he was lower than low and I wouldn’t let him. I held him against me, a grip on his shirt.
Which apparently was the wrong fucking thing to do as Nox’s mind started to panic and he was feeling trapped. I let out a huff of air in frustration and threw my arms off him angrily, yet he stayed. “I thought you felt trapped.” Poet better appreciate how fucked up this kid was and the things I had to do.
“You aren’t pinning me to you. I can stay here. I won’t move.”
He went into submission again. I couldn’t deal with it so I shoved him off me. “I don’t want a fucking submissive.”
He sighed. “I don’t want a dom.” He picked up his plate and scraped it off into the garbage. What the fuck? That was still good food, I’d have eaten it. This man was going to drive me up a fucking wall.
“Then what the fuck do you want Nox?” I asked in a growl. I was trying to keep it together. I was trying not to run away. Running away didn’t do any good and it didn’t get me any more information. I could keep Nox broken forever if I wanted to. I think that was what Poet was counting on.
Nox shrugged. “I don’t want a dom. I want someone who understands that’s all.”
He took up a submissive stance against the counter and I waited for him to drop his head but he huffed and threw himself to the floor. He didn’t want to be submissive, he didn’t want to anger me. “I don’t need a dominate. I need a partner. I need someone who’s willing to help carry the burden of what it means to be me.” He started and the rolling in his head churned more but the words I understood.
“Everyday” I heard his head hit the cabinets, I could get up and look at him but I didn’t need to see him to know he was defeated. He kept going. “Everyday, it’s a fight to control what I am. When I was 5 the very first person who was supposed to help me forged in me the absolute compulsion to obey.”
This sounded very much like the child abuse I had been fearing before. And he kept going, describing it in more detail, “If I didn’t come into the classroom and put my hands on the wall, spread my legs and submit, once I did, and I always did, he would lay into me. Except to everyone watching, I stood against the way like that for hours. He slipped inside my head, made me dream. Beat me until I sparked.”
I wanted to know what he meant by sparked but as he spoke saw images of curtains catching fire, of his bedroom catching fire of tears and lost friends but he kept going as he did I didn’t have the heart to interrupt his tirade, “I learned to control every aspect of my being to please him. I still have nightmares every night of him, hurting me, of the beatings I took at his hands. The fear of misbehaving, or stepping wrong.” He was beaten into submission. I shoved my hands into my hair and leaned back against the couch. What the fuck?
He sighed, it sounded so desperate and broken. “I need someone who is going to take some of that burden, to release some of that control, just so I don’t overwhelm myself.” His reasons were sound, why was it hard to accept?
“I learned at a very early age that I was weak. I couldn’t be what everyone else was. So I worked harder, controlled more and more. And after the first time I hooked up with a random guy in a bar, I found a release. I could let them abuse me, leave myself raw and broken and they wouldn’t care. Adrian showed me I didn’t need to be broken and raw and weak even if I gave up power. I could be whole and still give up control, channel it in a positive way. So if my submissive nature bothers you, you know where the door is. I can’t change it and honestly, Alex. I don’t want to.” The realization that he had used the abusive nature of people to feel better about himself made my skin crawl. He was so much more. So much pain I could feel inside and most of it was self-inflicted. I could feel that never-ending font of pain inside him.
I didn’t know what to say, much less what to do. He wanted someone to understand. But understanding meant caring and I wasn’t going to care. He’d betrayed me once I wasn’t going to fall prey to his games again. I hated that I wanted to make it better. But I couldn’t run, I had to stay for Poet, had to play this game a little longer.
I got up and walked into the kitchen and looked down at him as he was close to tears on the floor. He felt smaller than before with me like this, but I didn’t get down to his level. “I don’t know what to say to all that.” He shook his head trying to clean the cobwebs of his mind from me, “I don’t understand. I don’t understand any of it.”
I knelt down and his eyes followed mine and I kept talking. “I don’t know why someone would hurt a beautiful boy like you. I don’t know why you’d let someone hurt you. You have all this power and you let people run over you like a semi-truck. All I want to do is take you home, bury you under a pile of blankets and tell the world to fuck off. They can’t have you. Why do you let people do that to you Nox?” I didn’t know what the fuck I was saying, it felt like I was talking from my heart and I couldn’t stop. All of the anger and heartbreak for what he’d been put through coalesced into one thought and I couldn’t deny it, he was mine.
The tirade in his head ran so fast I barely caught any of it, but the gist of it was I’d never understand I was just human. “Explain it to me Nox.” I tried hard not to growl my frustration at him. For all his progressive thinking he still thought of me as only human – different from him. He was beginning to piss me off.
“What do you want me to explain?” He growled at me. “The Venatori are a fucked up people. They beat kids because it teaches them control. They send us into camps where they don’t care about anything other than our survival. They don’t care if the weaker kids are abused and raped and that they have a hard time adapting. They force men and women to have children that they don’t want with people who don’t love them. They raise their children to see inside this tiny little box because it’s fucking how it’s always done.”
He broke the eye contact we’d been holding and stood up. There was no space between us but he hardly noticed as he went on. “This is my life, Alex. I’m fucked up. How I was raised was fucked up. Everything about this is fucked up.”
He said it like I didn’t understand. But then he didn’t know my life was fucked up too. My mother used me from a young age to get what she wanted. Me and her against the world. We could do anything, and she would use anything to get what she wanted. But he didn’t know that. He’d never know that. He continued on, “We deal with the hand we’ve been dealt and we do with it what we can. I submit because I need to. Or I’ll go fucking insane. The battles to be fought aren’t ones that need to save me. But there are people out there who can’t stand up for themselves. Who don’t get that right. So I’ll do it. I’ll be the Venatori’s punching bag while I do what I can for Abby, and Liam and for every other fucking supernatural creature I get to save because I can take anything the Venatori give to me. And I’ll submit to their rules and their beatings and I’ll do what it takes because I can. I’m that strong, but I need help. I need someone to free me from myself.” He walked away from me still kneeling on the floor. Fuck!
He was on the verge of hitting something and I wondered if there was a breaking point. And then his thoughts came around again to his dream guy – the one who never showed up and cemented in him the fact he wasn’t worth loving. It hit like a blow to the gut and I was surprised I didn’t gasp from the mental blow. He might as well have hit me. I hurt him, he hurt me, was it fair play to try to make this personal when it was just a job? Probably not, but when it came to Nox Sétanta I didn’t think in terms of fair. Besides, Poet wanted this. Poet would get it and I’d get that fucking favor.
Nox was staring out the window, I wondered if it was a magically created window or something else entirely – maybe a fucking portal to another world for all I knew. I collected myself and set myself on the right path. Poet wanted information I needed to be close. So that was where I went. I got up from the floor and headed to his bed to sit down. The pain and the tears started again with his thoughts narrowing on me leaving. He really thought so little of himself. He was a mess. I called out his name, “Nox.” When he looked at me I beckoned him to come with my finger.
He shook his head and I had no choice to but to say it, “Come here Nox.” I dropped my hand to my thighs, but he didn’t move. All I wanted to do was growl and leave but I stalked to him and stopped inches from his body. “I thought you listened better than this.” As I spoke he shivered at the sound of my voice caressing his skin.
He was dazed. I grabbed his wrists and pulled them behind him, pulling our bodies closer together. I could smell his clean yet smoky scent and the soft skin at his neck was well within kissing and biting range. He relaxed into the hold. I whispered against his skin, “Show me how well you can listen, Pretty Boy.”
He nodded, his mind quieted and he listened. “Touch me,” I commanded remembering how the club owner of Ooh had done the same exact thing. The chaos and the confusion here one moment and then gone another. It was almost as hard to read him now as it was when it was tumbling in that chaos.
“Where?” he gasped quietly, gasping for air to his lungs that wasn’t coming.
“Where ever you want.” I said as I let go of his hands. It’d be hard to touch without them. Though I wouldn’t be opposed to his mouth all over my body.
Nox dropped his eyes as he touched my cheek with the back of his hand. It was so gentle and tender, almost like he thought he was going to break me. I reached under his chin and lifted his eyes. “Look at me.” I didn’t want a submissive, and he wanted an equal. He didn’t want someone who was only going to play the game. He wanted understanding and hope. I could give him that in the moments now. He would understand how it felt when it was ripped away when this was all over.
He smiled and licked his lips as his fingers trailed down the top side of my arms. His hands found their way under my shirt and his fingers were cool against my skin and his eyes closed in ecstasy, but they popped open seconds later. He would obey even if he felt the desire to do otherwise. I smirked at him, “That’s fine, I don’t want you to look down unless you are watching what you do to me.”
He gave a slight nod to acknowledge the instruction. There was no yes, sir or master. And I was grateful for that particular omission, though I didn’t think he wanted those kinda nicknames anymore than I did. “Can I undress you?” He asked.
“I think that would be a good idea,” I remembered a time when he hadn’t asked. In the darkness of the dream, his birthday nearly five years ago, he undressed me and touched me everywhere. He tugged the shirt over my head and his fingers fell down caressing my skin.
His fingers followed the outline of the mechanical arm cutout on my shoulder. He’d never actually seen it, I hadn’t had it when he was in the dream, not that he’d know any way in the darkness. “What’s that from?” He asked as his fingers ran over the underlying scar.
It wasn’t a fond memory but I smiled. “Some guy tried to shoot me and missed.” Well not exactly missed since he actually hit me but he’d been trying to kill me. I played dangerous games sometimes, and sometimes the men and women involved got mad they got played. It was nothing different from Nox’s stories I’m sure. The scar on his cheek being the most obvious one I knew nothing about.
But he was going to start asking questions so I leaned forward and kissed him. His breath caught and when I pulled away I whispered against the soft wet lips, “Don’t worry about it, Pretty boy, it was a long time ago and I’m fine.”
Nox’s fingers trailed down my side and the feather-light touch ticked and I squirmed underneath. He had found the same spot before and carefully avoided it, but this time he ran his fingers over it again to elicit the reaction and I jerked away as he wanted but not out of reach, and the feeling went straight to my cock. I couldn’t hold still, I knew he could though if I asked him to. “I’m not as practiced as you.” I grabbed his hand and pressed it to my stomach, I had enough teasing.
He ran his fingers over my abs and he groaned at the touch. If he could get off just touching me fuck, wouldn’t that be something to leave him with. I took a step back and crooked my finger at him and he followed. His mind clear. His wants and desires clean on his mind. There was peace. And quiet I hadn’t really heard. He’d used other people like this, to calm his nerves, to embrace the peace and quiet.
I worked on autopilot as my body ached for him, but my mind was falling down its own hateful path. He was just using me like he had before. He was on top of me and his fingers were light against my chest. I didn’t want to be used, but what else good was this if I didn’t follow through. Pillow talk was always the best way to get information, even from a man who wore his thoughts on his sleeve. I whispered, “Kiss me.” And Nox leaned forward and pressed his lips to mine.
My fingers found the hem his shirt and I pulled it over his head and while his hands were above his head trapped by the t-shirt I pressed my lips to his neck. He groaned as I sucked and bit a small bruise in my favorite spot. Nox gave me as much room as was possible to do whatever I wanted. I moved up towards his ear, my tongue and lips leaving a trail and before I could find another tender spot there was a fucking knock at the door. Nox growled and I felt it against my lips. If it hadn’t been in frustration I’d have let him know how much I had liked it. But he didn’t answer the door. He tried to ignore the fact that someone was outside.