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It Started Out Badly

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They made it to the stairs before Trevor’s tears overwhelmed him. “I’ve lost him,” he whispered and felt the first warm, wet track slide down his cheek like grieving rain on the crumbling stones of a ruined castle.

“No,” Sypha said firmly. “No you haven’t.”

“How can you say that?” he asked her. Inside his heart the certainty of what had been lost was a slashing clearcut through the lush rainforest of hope. What was left was dry, brown, dead stumps. “Were you not listening? Did you not see his face? Adrian is…he’s…”

He couldn’t even say the words. Somehow giving voice to them was more terrifying than he could stand. “How could he ever forgive me for this?”

Sypha stopped and looked at him. “Trevor, how is any of this your fault?”

“It’s not; I mean it is,” he shook his head hard. “It’s my family’s fault but what does that matter? When did that ever matter before? It’s the association. I am a Belmont. Oh God Sypha, his anger and his grief and…” 

We have much to discuss, don’t we?

Like how he wants you to leave and never come back, his heart whispered. Panic swooped in; big ugly, bloodthirsty crows to pecking deep gouges into his heart. Your family ruined everything before he was even born. Bringing you home now destroyed everything he cares about. Why would he want you around anymore?

“Trevor, take a deep breath. Breathe. ” Sypha had taken hold of both his hands and was looking deeply into his eyes. “Deeeep breaths now; come on.”

He took one and it hurt. His chest was so constricted with the weight of everything he’d heard and seen in the study that it felt like bags of sand inside his lungs. He took another. And another, and slowly, slowly, the sand trickled out. Like an hourglass, he thought. And your time is coming to an end.

“Now listen to me.” The redhead continued. “We are going back to the suite and having something to eat. Everyone’s blood sugar is low, everyone is in shock right now, and we need to regroup as a trio.”

She took one hand away to touch his face, a warm comfort on his chilled skin. “We are not borrowing trouble here. You don’t know what Adrian is feeling and that is why we are all going to talk to each other and not assume, right?”

She’s right, his brain agreed reasonably. You need to give him a chance to say what he needs to. You need to hear it from him. He tried to convince his bruised heart. 

“Okay Sypha,” he said and she smiled, gently tugging his hand forward as they continued toward Adrian’s suite.  

Trevor, I need a moment with my family. 

My family. Trevor heard the weighted words in his mind again. My family, which is not you. My family whom I would do anything for, could never disappoint, could never hurt

But I did, the brunette thought. I hurt your family more than I can ever make right.

Everything around him was pressing against him like a crowd of accusing witnesses. 

The warmth of a home that belonged to people who loved each other. People who were staring at each other like they were strangers now, he thought. Saying things behind closed doors that could be, and mean, anything. Because of me and mine.

The opulent wealth of a dynasty. A dynasty my family shattered the foundations of. 

Items of historical significance. Items that spoke of a family that mattered to the world. Had always mattered. Your family mattered too, his heart argued. Belmonts meant something once. Vlad made sure we never would again.

There was anger there for that. He’d taken something that might have been considered honorable and sullied it completely. 

I protected our family. In his mind, Vlad’s furious tones echoed like a scream in a tomb. I ensured that this whole sordid affair never came to our door.

Can I really blame him? Trevor thought. I would have panicked too. Adrian’s gentle smile at Lisa across the dining room table. The hand he gave her when they got into the limo. The calm, warm, accepting hug that was offered to him in Lisa’s study. 

No, he decided. I cannot blame Vlad. I would have done anything to protect them too.

But I cannot help but grieve this, he admitted silently. My parents were trying to do the right thing too. Trevor thought about his mother and father as Sypha opened the door to Adrian’s suite. The plea on his mother’s face when she told him that one day she hoped he could be proud of what they’d done.

In a way he was, but… 

Mama, I wish I could be, he thought. But it’s all fucked up now. Everything is ruined. I am grateful that you tried; I’m so grateful it was not just for money… but oh, could it have been any other way? Any other family?

“I’m worried about Lisa,” Sypha said, slipping her shoes off. “She looked like she might have a heart attack.”

Guilt slid under guilt and floated up like ruined keepsakes in a basement where sewage seeped in from the walls. “I can’t imagine how she is feeling right now,” Trevor said honestly. He really couldn’t. This would be like finding out… 

Like finding out that your lover lied to you about being someone else twice over? His brain supplied cruelly. Like his family's lies infiltrated yours and rotted it out from the inside?

A sudden, terrifying thought came to him and the sculptor stood with his hand on the doorknob of the door he’d closed. Trevor stared sightlessly at the rough, wide back of his hand. It was a simple hand connected to someone whose history was anything but.

What if Adrian makes that connection too? What if he looks at his history with you–all the fucked up lies and fights and mistakes; looks at your parents, and your uncle, and you... and all he sees are liars. People who had questionable relationships with the Tepes family that were distorted by money.

Vlad said they were honorable, he reminded himself, but even that wasn’t a comfort. None of it was. All he could hear was Adrian’s awful, flat voice, devoid of everything but a rage so deep and hot that it seemed to be pulled out of the core of the planet.

But he was angry at his father, not you, Trevor reminded himself. He blamed Vlad.

How long until that turns though? He asked himself honestly. How long until he looks at you and sees the ruin of a familial love that obviously meant everything to him? 

Adrian’s face hung like a twisted, tortured ornament in the front of his mind. The vulnerable terror in the limo when he said he couldn’t disappoint his family. The sparkling joy when his father had entered the dining room. The peaceful contentment when he stood with his parents in the foyer.

The Belmonts destroyed that, Trevor thought, the dread like a hot fist crammed down his throat. How could you possibly compare to something that important?

You can’t, his brain said reasonably. He cares about you, but Vlad’s love has cradled him since he was born. It’s logical that he wouldn’t want to give that up.

He would need a scapegoat, he thought. Someone to direct all that fury at. Someone to blame.

They all would, he realized and the tears came now. There’d been kindness and understanding and comfort given to him all weekend by both Vlad and Lisa. It’d been a welcome so honest and sincere that he'd hoped... You thought that maybe you could find a home here too. Losing that dream was a painful slice in what was already a screaming agony.

Can you blame them? He asked himself and couldn’t. Choosing between an orphan nobody with a questionable history of lying, just like his parents, or a family committed, unified and devoted to each other for decades? 

There was no contest here.

Even Sypha, he thought, turning slowly to look at her. She was washing apples in the sink, having gotten a big plate from the cupboard and a jar of peanut butter. She loves the Tepes’ and has an incredible relationship with Vlad.

Could he really expect her not to resent him? To not wish that the inconvenience of Trevor's presence could just be erased and things could go back to normal? It’s not fair, his heart screamed and he ruthlessly shoved that aside. When was it ever? 

This isn’t about what is fair, he told himself. This is about making sure that the people you love can be happy. Even if it’s not with you.

“I can hear your brain in overdrive over there, you know,” Sypha said looking up. “It’s completely reasonable. I am trying to absorb everything too. Do you want to talk about it?”

Trevor’s legs felt like toothpicks supporting a dinner plate heaped with rotting food. You will not collapse, he told himself, looking at the pretty gleam of her hair and the profile of clever, cute features as she turned to dry her hands. 

I’m not ready to give her up, his heart wailed and the honesty of it brought the words that he would have held his peace with.

“I’m afraid,” he said candidly, even as his pride took the hit. “It’s overwhelming me.” Here I am, he thought with shame. Weak again. Crying again.

Sypha stilled and looked up. “Trevor, come here,” she said, rounding the corner of the counter and walking toward him. When her arms opened for him, he felt a sense of relief that was so visceral it numbed his legs.

How can she still love me? He asked himself. 

She’s still processing it. His anxiety was relentless, giving him no peace and no refuge. She hasn’t made the full connection yet.

“Less thinking, more hugging Mr. Belmont,” she said simply and he took a step toward her. “There you go," she said encouragingly. "Come here and hold me. I need you.”

She needs me. That did it. He would always, always try to give Sypha what she needed. What she deserved. She was in his arms in three steps and cradling him in the same breath. 

How much I needed to hold her, he thought. She’s like holding a birthday party. All the joy and excitement and vibrant color and delight, held inside the small, fierce frame of a woman he loved more than any other female on the planet.

“It’s so much,” she whispered against his chest. “There is so much grief in all of it.”

I’m sorry, he thought and squeezed her. “Yes,” he choked out. “It’s everywhere.”

“I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. I am so sorry Trevor, more than I can say.”

It would be easy, so easy, to ride that sympathy, to use it to comfort himself and try to insulate himself against the inevitable blame and hate. He couldn’t do it, it would only make it harder in the end. “I am too. I would do anything to spare everyone from this. Anything to make it right with Adrian.”

Sypha shook her head gently. “I don’t think you can. It’s not yours to fix. It’s Vlad’s.”

“I need to give him something though Sypha, something that would soften this for him, something that balances out the awful burden of this.” He could hear the despair in his own words. “But there is nothing. I have nothing I can give him.”

“Trevor,” she laughed gently. “You tell him you love him.”

---

Adrian took a moment in the sitting room at the top of the stairs. Quietly shutting the door behind him, he stared blankly out the window and tried to slow his anxious pulse. Everything was in shambles. The inside of his heart looked like one of those photos he’d seen of the aftermath of the Mt. Saint Helen’s volcano. 

I can never make this right with Trevor, he thought. There is nothing I can give him that would ever blot this out.

It consumed him, carved into him as deliberately as a butcher deboning a calf. There was nothing he could do to reverse the inevitable destruction of his future with the man he adored.

Part of him knew he should be worrying about his mother. This was just as horrific for her, and to make it worse, he’d struck her. Before today he’d never hit either of his parents, and the idea that he’d raised his hand to her revolted him. Even if it’d been an accident. 

It was one more thing that poured into the raging chaos of emotion that played a gleeful match of soccer within his stomach.

It was a sick sense of gleeful pride that he’d bloodied his father. 

Adrian was not a violent person but there’d been a freeing madness in the primal urge to extract vengeance. Any restraint had snapped there for him and the punishment of bruises was something, something he could accomplish. There’d been somewhere to place all this helpless grief and wounded fury and floundering broken-heartedness.

Right on Vlad’s fucking face, he thought grimly. The urge to go back and beat his father until something shattered was vibrating through his arm and Adrian trembled with it. He wasn’t sure he could ever look at Lord Tepes again without giving into it. 

“It doesn’t matter because you are never seeing him again,” he muttered.

What if that’s what Trevor says? His heart wept. What if you get to the suite and he is already packing up? The frantic nausea was so strong that Adrian gagged. The sickly fear pinched its way down his body as though it was testing ripeness before it swallowed him whole.

“No,” he whispered. “I won’t let him leave me. I can’t. I would do anything, give him anything. Accept any punishment.”

But what punishment could he give you that would remotely be equal? Adrian didn’t have an answer for that. Someone has to pay for this, he thought.

His father’s absurd belief that somehow money would remotely begin to address the crimes of the Tepes family in this matter was tossed aside as easily as the crumpled tissue in his pocket. Trevor would never accept the money and he would never raise a hand to Vlad, even if both were the bare minimum that the Tepes family could give him.

But what about what Trevor needed? What about the closure the Belmonts deserved?

Why not tell him? Admit it all off the record, and see what he wants you to do.

Trevor’s suggestion about Agent Isaac came back to him and the blonde nodded. Yes, that was precisely what needed to be done. He pulled out his phone and texted Julius for the number on the card. When the picture of it came back alongside the bodyguard’s message: Is everything okay? Adrian laughed. It was a hollow sound, joyless and tired. 

No, he texted back. But it will be. Thanks.

Adrian was not a foolish man, even when his world was collapsing. When he called the number and got Isaac’s voicemail, he elected to simply leave his cell phone, punching it into voicemail and sending it off. He would not leave a message or any indication of what the call was about. Meeting Isaac in person was the safest means of ensuring his goal was met and he would not leave enough of a trail to endanger his mother.

The room fell silent again and the thoughts crowded in. The questions remained. Who would pay for this? What punishment could be given that might balance the scales? There wasn’t anything the Tepes family had that Trevor wanted. There wasn’t anything Trevor wanted that would… the slight pain focused his attention.

He was pressing the bite on his throat again. You are mine. 

Was that still true? he wondered. Trevor’s possessive need for him had always been held in check by his fear of hurting Adrian. What if he didn’t have to worry about hurting me? What if he thought I wanted to be hurt?

Whatever I need?

Would that be something he needed? Adrian deliberated. It was hard for him to believe. Trevor was always so gentle with him. Even the biting and the spanking and the choking were carefully controlled and soaked in affection. Was that what he needed, or what he knew you needed? He asked himself ruthlessly.

“Trevor would deny himself what he really wanted out of consideration, you know this,” he admitted aloud.

But what if you are wrong? He asked himself. What if that isn’t what he wants?

Then he’ll refuse you, he argued. He might refuse you anyway, you don’t know. It is very possible he can’t stand to touch you.

But if he wants me, I could give him this, he thought. Even if it isn’t exactly how I want it to be.

He thought about Trevor’s face when he turned to him. How his eyes had scorched over him in a painful, blistering smear. Tell me you didn’t know, Adrian! You better fucking tell me now, or I swear—

He needs to have someone to punish, Adrian thought with certainty. I can be that for him and give him what he needs. The horrible, deadening spread of foreboding started laying prickling warnings in his limbs and Adrian flatly refused to heed them.

Whatever you need that to be; I want to give it to you. I am yours. I meant it when I said that and I can do this for him. For us, the painter thought resolutely. And maybe, maybe he won’t leave me behind.

It was love that had him turn and stride out of the room. Love that swallowed the fear of what he was going to offer and what it might mean. Love that gave him the ability to armour himself with the facade he needed to make this work.

He opened the door and saw them holding each other in the living room. Beloveds, he yearned and took a breath. No, he lectured silently. Trevor had comfort from Sypha now. He doesn’t need that from you. Now he needs an outlet for his fury. He needs to be reminded what you can give him. That you would do anything for him.

Adrian slammed the door and Trevor and Sypha turned to him. The blue eyes of the sculptor pierced him and it was like Trevor looked right through him. Your family suffered for the vanity of mine, Adrian thought. Skin burning, anger surging, he looked at the man he loved and all he saw was pain. 

“Adrian—” Sypha began but he cut her off. 

“Get out,” Adrian told her and watched shock bloom over her face. “You won’t want to see this.”

He turned to Trevor, whose face was rising concern and disbelief. “I want you to fuck me. Hard.”

Desire, awareness, dismay and anger surged over Trevor’s face. “Adrian, wait a minute, I—!”

In three steps the painter was at his side. I’m so sorry, he thought again and it was a deep, hideous ache. He slapped Trevor full across the face as hard as he could. Hurt me, he begged inside. Let me give this to you.  

Just as he’d hoped, the sculptor’s temper bloomed hard and fast to the surface. “What the fuck?!” Trevor snarled and yanked Adrian’s arm back. 

Sypha’s voice was urgent and alarmed. “Guys, this isn’t—.”

The blonde tossed his hair back and pulled deep within himself for the numb place that allowed him to become what the world needed him to be when he couldn’t escape. “Can’t take a little slap, Belmont? Try it. I know I can. I want you to.”

“I don’t know what the fuck you think you are doing Adrian but…” Trevor started to say, and Adrian laughed, low and careless.

“Seeing if all the talk was really worth it. You said you wanted to fuck me. I’m telling you to, and how I want it, and you’re copping out.” The words hurt but he barbed them, baiting Trevor’s possessiveness. “Maybe I need to go find someone who’ll give it to me.”

Each word was like a leaden bomb in the depths of his heart. This was not how he wanted this to be between them, but he understood that what his family had done was inexcusable. This was what the painter could give him.

“Adrian, stop! Trevor, don’t—!” Sypha was right between them and gently put her hand on their shoulders. 

“He’s right,” Trevor said without looking at her. “You should go.” 

I knew it, Adrian thought with a brutal wrench from his heart. He needs this.  

“Fuck that, I will be damned if I am going to watch you two do this!” Sypha said angrily and the painter just closed her off. He would have to explain to her later, apologize later. There was only one lover at a time he could make things right with.

He looked Trevor in the eye and said, “Whatever you think you’ve got, I can take it. And then some. I want it hard and I want it to hurt.”

In the depths of Trevor’s eyes, he saw a glimmer of concern spreading. “You want me to hurt you?” he asked and Adrian could hear the doubt in his voice.

Don’t let him see it, don’t take this from him, Adrian thought. It’s all you can give.

The painter cocked a brow, looked down his nose and snorted with disdain. “Well you can try, but we’ll see if you can even—”

Trevor pulled his hair back and Adrian gasped. When the sculptor’s teeth were on his throat, he moaned as need jumped. It doesn’t hurt, he thought and felt guilty.

“Harder damn it,” he grated out and winced when Trevor’s teeth sunk in. It was too hard but it fed into his need to sooth Trevor and accept punishment for his part in all of this. 

No one knew, because there was no other way to keep you and Adrian safe, he heard his father say again.

Adrian laced his fingers into Trevor’s hair and remembered the time in the studio. How the sculptor’s control snapped when he pulled his hair. He yanked, hard enough that Trevor’s teeth broke his skin as he was jerked back from his throat. The blonde felt the blood and ignored it.

“Do better Belmont, I said hurt me for fuck’s sake.” Like a distant peal of a bell, he heard a door close. Relief tumbled. Sypha had left.

There was something in Trevor’s face that excited him and made him want to weep. When the sculptor wrapped his hand around Adrian’s throat, the painter felt twin slices of lust and fear. He squeezed and the blonde gasped.

“Are you sure?” his lover asked and Adrian’s brain screamed at him to stop. Instead, his heart spoke.

“Did I fucking stutter?” the painter said sarcastically. 

“No,” Trevor said slowly. “You didn’t.” He released him and pointed to the bedroom. “Get your ass in there then.”

There was nothing playful about the order, nothing kind or understanding. It hurt, even as Adrian accepted it. He went to the bed that the three of them had slept in last night, curled up into each other and holding Trevor. If the painter was lucky, what would happen in this bed now would mean he would have more nights like that.

He stopped at the edge of the bed and turned back. “How do you want me?” he asked, heart sliding into the pit of his stomach like a dejected slinky creeping down crumbling stairs.

There was something dark and threatening in the way Trevor stood in the doorway, a brooding silhouette of sensual menace. What are you thinking? Adrian wanted to ask. He was too afraid of the answer. Too afraid of the rejection he was sure were waiting in the words he would ask for.

He linked his hands and felt himself start to twist them. No, don’t show him how nervous you are, he thought. Show him it’s okay, you want what he wants.

“I assume that I should be naked,” he said and hid the tremble of his hands by pulling his shirt tails out of his pants. 

“Yes,” Trevor said, stepping into the room with a distinctly decisive air. He closed the door behind him and it was like a gunshot in Adrian’s ears.

“I’ll strip then,” Adrian said, reaching for his belt. The sculptor stepped to him and shoved him, hard enough that it lifted him off his feet and threw him back onto the bed. Adrian resisted the urge to curl up into it defensively.

Instead he propped himself up on one elbow and looked at Trevor. I love you, he thought, looking at a face he adored, transformed into a mask of passion and temper. Belmont wrenched his own t-shirt over his head and put his hand to his belt. Eyebrow raised, Adrian’s hand went to his blouse buttons. 

“Don’t you fucking dare,” Trevor ground out and leaned over. With one hand he tore Adrian’s shirt open, buttons flying. The seams ripped into the blonde’s skin and Adrian felt his alarm kick up another notch. 

Trevor was so strong, and Adrian forgot it because he never used it against him. The blonde was accustomed to him being gentle and considerate. 

Yes, you are used to him taking care of you, his heart whispered. Now you will take care of him. Give him what he needs.

Trevor wrenched his shirt down his arms and it caught at the buttoned cuffs. Belmont’s gaze raked down his torso and he bent to Adrian’s scar. The painter had a split second to think of how wonderful his attention to this extraordinarily sensitive and vulnerable place on him was, when Trevor sunk his teeth into the middle of it. 

Sensation exploded inside of him and Adrian bucked with a fearful whimper. There was pleasure but there was pain, real pain, here. He could feel the prickle of impending tears in his nose and swallowed them back. He would not cry, even as he felt fear creeping in.

Then he became aware of Trevor twisting his shirt into a coiled rope. It tightened on his wrists until his hands tingled and then the sculptor pulled. Adrian was forced down on his back and he gulped. Keep your mouth shut and your emotions under control, he told himself. 

Trevor worked down his scar, biting and worrying the twisted tissue until Adrian was writhing. Broken, sad mewling sounds worked their way from his throat and the sculptor pulled the end of the shirt through the bind to secure it. Hands free, he jerked Adrian foreward and set his teeth against a slim hip bone. 

“Tell me, Tepes,” Belmont breathed against his flesh and bit down. Adrian felt his skin break and the sharp sting forced a tear to escape from one eye. He wiped it away with his shoulder. “W-what?” he managed to answer, working to keep his tone even. 

“Does it hurt?” the brunette asked roughly. “Is this what you wanted?” 

Yes and no, Adrian thought, but what I’ve done to you is worse. Still, he didn’t want to lie and– Trevor slapped his face and shock had Adrian’s lips parting. 

“I asked you a question.” Adrian’s eyes flew to his lover’s and there was such grief there that the painter felt utterly helpless. He didn’t want to lie; he didn’t want to do this but he was caught by the inescapable destruction of what his father had done. Caught by what Trevor needed from him.

He gave the sculptor the truth he could. 

“I want you,” he said and he spread his legs to him. He couldn’t see Trevor’s eyes, his lashes shielded him as he looked down at Adrian’s parted thighs. The hands he adored went to the painter’s belt and Adrian closed his eyes.

--- 

Trevor wanted to vomit. This was everything he never wanted to be and his mind was shrieking uncontrollably at him to stop. But he couldn’t. Not if he wanted to keep Adrian.

When the painter had strode in here and demanded Trevor fuck him and hurt him, it had taken a moment for the brunette to understand. 

He knew that Adrian liked Trevor’s possessiveness. There was a joyful surrender that the blonde would give him when they made love. What happened between them had always been filled with trust. That trust had been broken now.

How do you re-establish trust? He thought. You have prove it. 

Adrian felt like there was no one he could trust right now. He needed Trevor to prove that he would do anything, be anything, that Adrian needed. That he would fulfill the needs Adrian had asked him for before, and Trevor had denied.

I refused him because I didn’t want to hurt him and now he is telling me that was what he always wanted, the sculptor thought with sorrow. It’s a test. Will I be what he needs in at least one aspect of our lives, or will I fail him again?

Trevor didn’t want this, ever, but he knew that Adrian needed this from him. His fear of losing his beloved, just as they’d discovered each other, was an animal clawing at his belly. The animal was frantically, desperately tunnelling into the safety of what it needed the most. It would cross literal fire to get it.

I love you, he thought as he unbuckled Adrian’s belt and forcefully stripped down his pants. And if this is what it takes to show you that, I will do it.  

It was true that Adrian brought out something in him that could be wild and unrestrained, but he would never have said it was something vicious. The sculptor could do rough and tumble with the best of them but cruelty for the sake of pain was something he took no pleasure in. It was abhorrent to him and edged into a territory that reminded him of his 18th birthday. 

He looked at the shuddering stomach, the beautiful, sharp hips and pale skin already wearing wounds from him. Trevor gave himself a moment to breathe. The nausea rolling through him threatened to undo his composure completely. It was a blessing that he wanted Adrian as fiercely as he did because otherwise, Trevor wasn’t sure he could stay hard enough to do this.

One long lick down the nasty bite he’d left, tasting blood like tears on his tongue. The ugliness of this was festering inside of Trevor like a crushed orange teeming with ants and his stomach rolled again. He never wanted to touch Adrian like this. Spanking and hair pulling was one thing, but making him bleed was another. 

But this is about what he wants, Trevor thought, and forced his lips away from the trailing kisses he was leaving above the waistband of the painter’s underwear. He wanted to ask again, to confirm that this was what his lover wanted from him, but he couldn’t bear to hear that it was, one more time. 

Instead he peeled back Adrian’s Gucci briefs and inhaled warmth, lavender and licorice. Anticipation wormed into his trepidation; this man was beloved incarnate. “You are beautiful,” he whispered without thinking, and remembered that sweetness was not what Adrian wanted from him. 

He stood back and stared at him. Look at him. Eyes on the long, pale form, he thought, So fragile. The joy of knowing Adrian was his, was drowning inside the apprehension. Even as Trevor swallowed fear, he was struck by Adrian’s beauty. So stunning.  

The painter lay on the bed like the quiet, blue moment before the sun peeked over the horizon and the day began. Infinite waiting, infinite glory, and ephemeral surrender. Chest heaving, skin goose-bumped, hands bound above his head, Adrian watched him. 

It sickened him that the painter could want this from him, but Trevor felt powerless to refuse him. His pink tongue ghosted out of his mouth for a moment, and Trevor hissed. Adrian smiled so sweetly that Trevor’s heart shattered. 

I cannot fail him, the sculptor thought. He closed his eyes and swallowed his despair. 

He missed the shudder and the fear because he did. Instead, that sweet smile came to him behind his closed eyes and he knew he couldn’t look Adrian’s face and be what the painter needed him to be. 

“Get on your knees,” he said and turned to the closed door to go to the bathroom for the lube.

--- 

Sypha was holding her shoulders and shaking. She’d successfully staved off vomiting but her gag reflex was still acting up. Her skin was crawling and she felt tears on her face. The two people she loved more than anyone else in the world were utter strangers destroying each other in there, and she couldn’t understand why. 

She heard Adrian whimper through the door and there was fear in it. Sypha pressed her hands to her ears and gagged. I want to go. I don’t want to know about this, she thought. But I have to stop this, there is no coming back from it.

She rocked on the floor outside their bedroom, tears streaming down her face. Adrian never, in a million years, would want to be genuinely hurt. 

Rough sex? Spanking, hair pulling, hickeys? Yeah, sure, if the mood was right, she could totally see it. But pain? Like, blood, violence, wounding? Never. She was as sure of that as she was her own name. 

So, what was he doing? She wondered. And why was Trevor going along with it? 

She stood and paced into the bathroom, the harsh overhead lighting like a glaring spotlight drilling into her brain.

And why was Trevor going along with this? That didn’t make any sense to her. The sculptor could certainly be wild and animalistic in the bedroom. But he was never brutal. They’d been very honest with each other about what they liked and what they wanted to try. That had never been something he’d said he wanted.

Granted, they hadn’t had the opportunity to do everything that they’d talked about, but he never once indicated a desire to force or abuse, not even as a roleplay concept. He’d even spoken about his strength and wanting to be careful with it and the importance of safeguards.

“Does it hurt?” She heard Trevor ask in a low growl, voice thick with emotion. “Is this what you wanted?” 

There was a crack of sound that made her flinch. Someone had been slapped, hard. “I asked you a question,” Trevor’s voice was an awful threat. It was the voice of a stranger.

“I want you,” she heard Adrian answer and the anguish in it was enormous. 

How can Trevor not hear it? she wondered. Does he just not care? The nausea crept up into her throat until she could taste it. 

Sypha would be the first one to admit that she didn’t understand all the nuances of the relationship between Trevor and Adrian. There was a possessiveness there he didn’t have in the same way with her and a submission from Adrian that seemed instinctive and potent but this…this was awful and violent and malicious.

She tried to think of any instance where Adrian had said anything during sex or conversations, where he suggested he wanted discipline or degradation. Nothing was coming to mind. In fact, she distinctly remembered talking to him and Grant last year about consent at an opening. Grant was very much into being roughly handled by his partners. Adrian had confessed after that conversation that he just didn’t understand it.

“Get on your knees,” she heard Trevor order and shuddered.

I have to stop this, she thought.

But what if this is what they want?

It simply can’t be, she thought immediately. I just don’t believe that. I know these men and this is not them. Not even with everything that Vlad said, not even with all the pain between the families now. 

When they got back to the room, Trevor had said that he was afraid of Adrian’s blame and his hate. He’d seen Adrian’s disappointment and his anger when he told them to go back to their room. 

Sypha shook her head. As if either of them was to blame in this! As if it was up to them to make amends—

“Oh my God, that is what they are doing!” she hissed and stared at herself in the mirror. With a rough jerk to bring her dress over her head, Sypha started to strip.  

What had Trevor said in the apartment after the C. Leon argument? she thought. I love him, Sypha and I can’t do this. I will never be what he needs and if he got hurt because of me…

And Adrian after Carmilla at the Wygol? She reflected. I want to protect him, Sypha and I can’t. It’s my fault; all of this.

“So ready to take the blame that you don’t even stop to consider that’s what the other person is doing!” she muttered fearfully. She opened the cabinet drawer and withdrew a couple of things. The digital artist knew what she had to do to make this stop before—

And she heard the door behind her open.

--- 

Trevor put his hand on the doorknob, opening the door even as he listened to Adrian shifting on the bed behind him. The ugliness of what had transpired and what the blonde was asking him to do was eating away at him in decimating hunks like a ravenous bear ripping into a beehive.

I cannot believe he wants this. How could I have been so wrong about what he likes? Trevor wondered. His self-disgust, his doubt and his despair were overwhelming him. There was no desire in this, no love. The longer it went on the more unbearable this feeling of self-revulsion became. 

What are your intentions? His heart whispered to him. 

I never intended any of this to happen, I never wanted to hurt him or his family.

Then do not start now, his heart pleaded. Even if he needs you to be this, can you live with what that will make you?

The simple truth spun out with the finality of an asteroid exploding into the earth. I can’t do this, he accepted with misery. I cannot do something that is so fundamentally wrong to me. He could not be this person, ever. 

Trevor put his head in his hands and tried to prepare himself to say goodbye to a future that meant everything to him. There was a soft sound of distress behind him.“What are you waiting for?” Adrian asked him and his tone was pleading. 

I’m so sorry, Trevor thought. He couldn’t turn, couldn’t answer. To cry now would be manipulative and shaming. He needed a moment, just one, to face the rejection.

“You don’t want me,” Adrian said quietly and it sounded like a goodbye. The kind that would replay in his head until he would go mad or be driven to drink.

“No, it’s not that,” Trevor managed and forced himself to turn. Adrian’s back was to him, his bound hands resting in his lap. He was on his knees as ordered and his body was rigid. The sculptor was struck by how he almost appeared to be praying.

I should have said all fours, Trevor thought. Adrian is so innocent; he didn’t even realize what I was telling him to do.  

“What is it then?” there was a thickness in the painter’s voice that Trevor took for anger. 

I just want to see you one last time. I need to tell you, he thought. “Can you please turn around?” he asked.

“No,” the blonde said. “There is nothing left to say. You should go.”

There it is, Trevor thought, and the pain was so intense that exploded like white cracks across his vision. “I will go,” he said softly. “But could you please look at me first? I need to say something to you.”

Adrian shook his head and his spine was so straight, so tense. Trevor closed his eyelids as the tears burned behind them. Just go, he told himself.

Maybe it was because he closed his eyes. Maybe it was because he held his breath. Whatever the reason, that’s when Trevor heard it in his breathing.

Adrian was crying. 

Horrified, his eyes snapped open and he rounded the bed, grabbing Adrian’s shoulder and turning him. The painter refused to look at him, and instead looked to the side. Frail tears lined his flushed face. 

“I’m so sorry, Adrian. I am! I just can’t.. I can’t do that to you! I wish I could; I wish I could be what you need,” Trevor said, the sickness and grief roaring inside his skull like a pride of lions establishing territory.

Adrian was trying to hide behind his hair and Trevor pushed it out of the way. The blonde’s tears fell, each one an enormous foot from the giants of guilt, leaving footprints in Trevor’s heart. “I wanted to be what you needed,” Adrian whispered. “But you don’t want me anymore, not even like this.”

Shock as vast as the heavens and as breathtaking as leaping from a plane burst through him, even as hope quietly raised its hand. “What are you talking about Adrian? I just don’t want to hurt you. Of course I still want you!”

“It makes sense you wouldn't," the blonde whispered. "My family hurt you. I can’t make it fair, and I can’t lose you.” Adrian still wasn’t looking at him, a weeping angel in the midst of a tangle of emotions and dark sheets.

Oh my God, did he think I wanted this?! Trevor thought, the horror of it spilling from his lips in a furious rant. “I didn’t want this! I don’t want to hurt you… to do this to you and you...," he could see it now, plain as day. "You don’t want it either! Why did you say that you did!”

“I don’t have anything else I can give you,” Adrian gave a half-hitched sob, looking at his hands. “I have failed you in every way possible, and someone needs to be punished for this. For what my family has done to yours. I wanted to give that to you. You need to punish me.”

The relief that staggered Trevor was only beaten back by the stricken fury at what might have happened. They would have done something neither one of them could have lived with, and for what?!? 

“Holy fucking hell, that is so fucked up, Adrian,” Trevor said harshly. “I don’t want punishment; I don’t want penance. I especially don’t want either from you!” He shook the painter gently. “Look at me!”

Liquid gold drowning with emotion met his eyes and Trevor shuddered. The pain there was laced with a fear that he understood only too well. There was only one way to make Adrian understand.

“Oh my God, Adrian, don’t you get it? I love you.” 

Adrian’s eyes widened with shock and his breath caught. Trevor thought, We are both so stupid. 

“I love you so much! I was afraid you would hate me for what this did to your family,” Trevor said, the words rushing out of him. “I hated hurting you like this! I was doing this because I thought you wanted—Fuck it!” 

He pushed the painter down onto his back, straddled him and kissed him, murmuring apologies and words of adoration into his mouth. Adrian bucked up into him and met his lips with eager joy. Yes, the sculptor thought, desire singing the tips of his fingers and racing down his limbs. Trevor speared his hands into locks of golden silk and felt that sweet surrender and trust move under him.

This is what I wanted, he thought. Everything I needed.

“I love you, Trevor,” Adrian whispered against his lips. “So much, I can’t stand it! I had to give you something so you wouldn't leave me. Something that would convince you to let me stay.”

The words exploded inside of him like tectonic plates creating new mountains that would scrape the sky and reform the world. He loves me. Adrian loves me. The universe tilted, spun and reoriented to face the sun that was his love.

I love you, I love you, he thought, and you love me too! The tears that had threatened were coming out now in twin sighs of release and joy. 

“You love me,” Trevor said, gasping against his mouth. “That is what you give me and by God, it is so much more than I could ever deserve. I drown in it, I breathe it. I don’t need anything else from you but it. I love you, Adrian. I love you, and I don’t want to leave, and I never want to hurt you.”

“Trevor,” the painter sobbed out and clutched him close, melting into him in urgent invitation. The sculptor’s desire surged, hot and fierce. “I love you, I’m so sorry. Don’t go, ever, please. I thought, I just…” He clung to the brunette and raked his nails up his back, arching frantically and wrapping his legs around him.

“God, please, I need you, please!” Adrian begged.

“Yes, fuck, yes, we will.” Trevor pressed urgent kisses over his mouth and cheek. “I want you and I want to do this right.” His eyes locked on his beloved he said, “I want to make love with you, Adrian. I want you to tell me you love me when I move inside of you.”

---

I need to be cleansed, it's time to make amends
For all of the fun, the damage is done
And I feel diseased, I'm down on my knees
I need forgiveness, someone to bear witness
To the goodness within, beneath the sin
Although I may flirt with all kinds of dirt
To the point of disease, I want release
All this decay, take it away
Somewhere there's someone who cares
With a heart of gold to have and to hold

-“To Have And To Hold,” Depeche Mode