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My Body is a Cage

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Sam stilled at the bottom of his pushup, aware of eyes on him. Reflexively he pulled into a crouch, ready to launch himself into an attack.

Kevin was in the doorway, watching, flinching. Sam relaxed, but he could feel his bare skin dimpling into goosebumps.

"Sorry!" said Kevin.

Sam laughed lightly to pass it off. "It's OK. Just training kicking in. Did you want something?"

"I-" said Kevin. He paused. "No. No. Just-"

Kevin wasn't staring at the floor. He was staring at Sam. At his body. At his bare chest. Sam became conscious that he was wearing nothing more than a pair of boxers. His body was exposed, and an object of Kevin's desire.

Kevin stepped forward. Sam swallowed. He knew he should say something here. He should make Kevin go away. Instead he froze, where he was, on the floor. Staring at his hand splayed out on the floorboards, balancing him.

Kevin's feet creaked the floorboards, three steps to come close, and his shadow fell on Sam's skin. Hand on Sam's head.

"Hey," said Kevin. His hand travelled lower, along Sam's neck, and Sam suppressed a shiver. Soon Kevin was grasping at the meat of Sam's shoulder, thumbing over the muscles there and the shapes they made under Sam's skin.

Sam tried to form words, but the air seemed very heavy. He knew that if he told Kevin to stop this, he would stop. But it was hard to shape his tongue to say it. It might be easier to wait for Kevin to stop. Soon Kevin would finish what he was doing.

Kevin crouched down, all of him not just feet in Sam's line of vision. Kevin's innocent wide-eyed face staring into his. "Do you want this, Sam?"

Sam looked up, into Kevin's eyes and felt warmth, melting the ice that had frozen around him. His mouth was dry, and he swallowed, but he kept looking into Kevin's eyes.

"No," he said. It wasn't easy, but he said it.

Kevin jumped back as if scalded. He left the room, fast, not looking back and not running.

Hurt, Sam thought distantly. I hurt him. He thought: I will have to fix that soon. Sam stayed on the floor. He flexed his hand where it supported him, and he thought about the word No, and what it meant to say it, and what it meant to be allowed to say it, and it got easier to breathe.