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"A thousand says you'll be begging by midnight."

Jeremy only shakes his head. "Neither one of us needs the money. It isn't much of a bet, Gabriel."

"Very well, then. What do you suggest for terms?" Gabriel raises his glass to his lips; the merlot is a very fine one, and he savors the way it tastes for long moments before swallowing and putting the glass down.

"If you get me begging by midnight, you can have me until dawn. If you don't... well." Jeremy sits back. "Then I'll take you."

"Until dawn," Gabriel repeats.

"Deal?"

"It'll do for starters."

Chapter Text

Safe, sane, and consensual are words that don't quite fit the two of them. It's been like that since they first met. One of them scrabbling to get the other into place, then the inevitable turning of tables, sometimes literally.

Jeremy's wrist is incredibly certain. He makes swift, practiced movements, and Gabriel hisses as he feels the air hitting his skin. White ribbons fall around his shoulders, and he grunts at the sensation. His shirt is in tatters now; he'd complain, only Jeremy is calmly tying one of those ribbons in his mouth, gagging him.

Gabriel's hands are tied to the legs of the table with white silk rope. He's tense and his eyes are angry, but Jeremy isn't looking at his eyes. Jeremy puts the first knife down, at Gabriel's side, and gets the lube, the condom. He preps Gabriel with rough, almost uncaring efficiency. Gabriel tenses a bit and grunts something into his gag; Jeremy doesn't take any notice. He slicks the condom on with one hand and leans forward again, picking up the second knife.

The second one is a nasty, vicious, dangerous-looking thing with a curved blade, and he runs the flat of the blade up over Gabriel's shoulder before leaning in and rubbing the edge along the side of his neck. He takes his cock in hand and shoves in, rough, with his knife at Gabriel's throat.

Gabriel doesn't move or make a sound. His eyes are closed, and he's sweating, beads of fear and desperation and utter terrified arousal appearing at his hairline.

Jeremy notices. Jeremy notices everything. He takes a handful of Gabriel's hair and yanks back, knife following Gabriel's throat on the way up. "Good," he whispers. "You can be so good when you want to be, boy. Now..." He slips the flat of the blade under the gag and drags the gag away from Gabriel's lips, working it free as his hips move in slow, forceful thrusts. "Scream for me."

It's not easy getting Gabriel to scream; he bites down hard on his lip, hard enough to break skin and bleed. The copper taste of blood makes him groan, and he pushes back against Jeremy's hips, trying to feel more, something to get his attention focused away from the need to do what Jeremy's telling him.

The flat of the blade goes back over Gabriel's shoulder, caressing in light, almost teasing strokes. Jeremy brings the edge back up and over, then holds it just away from Gabriel's throat. He grins. "Scream for me, boy," he murmurs.

"Fuck off."

"I'm doing just that, if you haven't noticed." Jeremy's grip on Gabriel's hair tightens, and he keeps moving, that slow forceful pace that he knows makes Gabriel burn for it. It can keep him just on the edge of coming for as long as Jeremy wants him there. "Scream for me."

"Fuck off."

"That's more a growl than a scream, boy. Try again." He slides in and holds there, breathing lightly. "Scream for me, and I'll make it good for you."

"Fuck off," Gabriel says again, but this time it sounds like a plea.

"Not quite close enough." Jeremy pulls back, pulls out completely, and lets Gabriel's head go, careful to let it down slowly. "Try again. One more time."

"Fucking bastard," Gabriel pants out. "Damn you, anyway..."

"Mmm. That's not quite screaming, you know."

It takes a few seconds for Gabriel to come to terms with what he's being asked to do, and a few more before he's ready to do it. "Fucking bastard," he pants, and then draws enough breath to grit his teeth together and do what's required of him. "Fuck me," he growls, and then again, "fuck me, bastard."

It's not close enough. Jeremy trails the knife back over Gabriel's shoulder, down his back, scratching very lightly. "I don't think you particularly want this."

"Please," Gabriel grits out. "You know I want it."

"Enough to beg for it?" The knife goes back over his shoulder, scrapes over his neck. "Enough to scream for it?"

"Please..." Gabriel swallows and nods. "I'll scream. Just please. Please. Fuck me."

Jeremy slides back in and takes up his rhythm again. "Now scream, boy. Scream."

Gabriel does, and Jeremy moves faster, eyes closing, hand tightening on the knife's handle. He holds onto Gabriel's hip and shoves in one last time, hard, eyes squeezed shut as he comes.

After a few minutes, Gabriel's soft pleas get through Jeremy's consciousness. Gabriel is whimpering, pleading, gasping. Jeremy pulls back and yanks the condom off; he gets himself cleaned up and walks around the table to pull Gabriel's head up by the hair. "Want something, boy?" he asks.

"Please... Jeremy..."

"Next time, when I ask you to scream? Do it." Jeremy laughs a little with obvious contempt. "Idiot boy."

"Next time you'll be the one screaming," Gabriel spits back.

Jeremy just keeps laughing as he unties Gabriel's wrists. Gabriel slumps harder into the table, collecting himself. Jeremy pulls his clothes back together and watches as Gabriel pushes himself off the table, tugging his pants up and shrugging out of the remnants of his shirt.

He's fast enough to catch Gabriel's grab for the first knife, to grab the second knife, to block Gabriel's stabbing thrust. The knives lock along with their eyes, and Gabriel grabs Jeremy's shirt with his free hand and tugs him forward. Gabriel's kiss is hungry, demanding, and Jeremy meets it eagerly.

"Next time," Gabriel hisses. He brings his knife up under Jeremy's ear. Jeremy holds perfectly still, and his arms drop to his sides. "You're mine."

"There's always a next time," Jeremy murmurs. "Until then, Gabriel."

"Until then."

Chapter Text

For about fifteen minutes in the spring of '00, Jeremy remembers being happy.

It wasn't just him. It was both of them. They were both happy. Unreservedly, unashamedly happy with each other.

At that point, it was only a question of who'd sabotage it first.

Gabriel had made a quick play for the role of saboteur when he'd pinned Jeremy's arm behind his back. He'd started nipping at the back of Jeremy's neck and had thrust up against him in a parody of fucking, and Jeremy had been determined not to beg.

The stretch in his arm had grown painful. More and more so, as Gabriel felt himself losing control and clamping down tighter. And then Jeremy had started pleading -- enough, enough, stop, you're going to -- Gabriel, stop.

But they haven't played with safewords and safeties in years. And so Gabriel didn't stop.

Shut up, shut up, stupid, you know you want it this way, you want it to hurt, shut up, fucker...

Jeremy had brought out the big guns at that point. Please.

It had startled Gabriel enough to ease up. Just enough that Jeremy didn't think his shoulder was going to come out of the socket; not enough for him to get away.

Fuck, you sound amazing when you say that. Say it again.

I love you, Gabriel.

Gabriel had gone completely still for several moments. Then he'd let Jeremy go entirely, and a few seconds later Jeremy heard water running in the bathroom.

Point to Jeremy, then. And damn, it had been beautifully won.

The words come out at the oddest times. Gabriel first said them to Jeremy nearly a year later, after Jeremy had cut him to pieces and forced him to lick the blood up before fucking him so hard he thought he was going to lose consciousness. There'd been something silver in Jeremy's eyes at that point, and Gabriel, for once, had been afraid.

So out came the words: I love you, Jeremy.

And Jeremy's eyes had snapped back into themselves instantly, going hard and cruel. He didn't acknowledge the phrase, but he'd stopped looking lost.

Then there's now.

They're fencing; neither of them is wearing protective gear. They could lose an eye; they will cut, scratch, scrape. It's to first blood, and they're both playing to win, blocking, feinting, parrying, thrusting. First blood gets first fuck, while they're sweating and exhausted; it's a wonder neither of them is playing to lose.

There's no padding on the walls; no strip on the floor to mark the path of their footwork. They can circle, run, twist around the borders of the room if they like.

And this, too, is another crystalline moment, one which Jeremy will remember years on as a moment when they were happy.

Ruin it, he thinks to himself. You can't stay like this.

And a voice whispers, No.

The blood is drawn from Jeremy's shoulder; he flings his blade to the ground as soon as he feels it. Gabriel steps forward and pushes Jeremy up against the wall.

"Mine," Gabriel snarls, and he brings his lips down hard on Jeremy's.

Surrender. Jeremy can feel the need for it humming under his skin. He pushes back at Gabriel's chest, and Gabriel drops his own blade and pushes Jeremy's hands up above his shoulders, pinning him to the wall.

"Mine," he whispers, teeth scraping down along the line of his neck. "Stop."

Ruin it. Before it's too late.

No. Damn it. No.

"I love you, Gabriel."

Gabriel yanks away, and his eyes are furious. "I didn't tell you to speak, boy."

Jeremy is barely blinking; he doesn't know which part of himself this came from. It could have come from the part that wants to ruin everything; it could have come from the part that wanted it held together. It fits both.

"Give them back to me," Jeremy hisses.

Gabriel's gaze falters, drops, but he holds on even tighter.

"Coward."

That's enough; Gabriel lunges forward with a forearm across Jeremy's neck. "I love you, too, Jeremy," he whispers, "and now we can't pretend we haven't said it, can we? We can use it to hurt, stab, scar, wound. But we can't pretend we haven't said it."

"I know," Jeremy smiles.

Ruined. Held together. Both. Yes.

Happy.