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My Skin is Rough (It Can Be Cleansed)

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April

 

Javert’s never been the type to think ‘this isn’t fair’. It’s a waste of time, it’s pathetic, and only self-pitying losers who haven’t got the guts to fix things for themselves give in to the urge to say it.

Still. This isn’t fair.

Valjean had new gym equipment put into the apartment after Christmas. He said it wasn’t a reaction to being unable to work out for months, and no one had pointed out what bullshit that was because, well, it’s Valjean. They let him have what works, because he needs it. So there’s a new leg press, and a bar set into the wall for chin ups – pointless; Valjean can lift about five times his own body weight – and a bigger bench for shoulder work because hey, what’s the point of only lifting from your back when you can do it at an incline too?

Javert wants to click his tongue and say it’s too much, that the guy’s going to hurt himself if he keeps this up. But it’s none of his business. He doesn’t live at the apartment, he just visits - and while he and Valjean have come pretty far, they’re not together. They just…share space sometimes, usually in silence. There’s a few light touches in chaste places, except nothing’s chaste to Javert these days, not when he wants him so bad he can taste the need on the back of his tongue. But he accepts what he’s given and he’ll never, ever ask for more. Not after everything that happened.

By group agreement – that is himself, Father Charles, Combeferre acting as unofficial doctor, and the therapist they practically had to blackmail Valjean into seeing – the guy takes one day off a week. He was allowed to choose which one, and after spending an uncomfortable few minutes trying to wrangle his way out of it, came up with Saturday. Monday to Friday are for studying, and the factory. Sunday is church and every good cause and charity case he can fit into twenty four hours. So, Saturday is supposed to be spent doing things just for him. Whatever he wants, and he’s not allowed to feel guilty about it. Everyone decided he’d picked a good day, because new movies come out on Friday so he can go to a mall to catch one, eat popcorn and ice cream, shop, take a walk, eat in an actual restaurant if he wants…Valjean had listened to these suggestions, and nodded, and smiled.

He spends Saturdays working out. And that’s why none of this is fair, because Javert finishes his volunteer shift at the security office at lunchtime, and usually heads over to Valjean’s for the afternoon. Just like four years ago, it’s good to have a quiet place to study, and Javert has done a lot of dumb things in the last few years but even he’s not stupid enough to turn away time spent alone with Jean Valjean. Never mind that it’s torture. Never mind that it haunts him through the entire week that follows; is the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up and the last thing he sees at night. He sees it for a long time at night. Seriously long. If it were possible to be tired of jerking off, he would be.

And so he’s here on the couch, on a stifling Saturday afternoon, with sun pouring through the huge glass arches along the wall and the heating cranked up near to full. Valjean needs to sweat as much crap out as possible, and Javert can’t help but watch, and agonise, all the while pretending to read a textbook on criminality and the ways it can be subverted to appear innocuous. He wishes it were a bigger book. He’s not entirely sure it’s hiding his erection.

 

*

 

Javert’s not speaking again. Valjean watches him while benching, making sure he’s not caught at it. He isn’t concerned about the silence the way he used to be; this is very different from the sullen withdrawal after he put a rope around his neck, but it’s also different from the self-contained, quiet-by-choice guy he knew before all that shit happened. He can’t put his finger on what’s different. It’s like Javert wants to speak, but just doesn’t know what to say. Or maybe he’s wrong, and he just doesn’t have anything to say anymore. That’s OK, if it’s right. One of the things he appreciates most about Javert is that he doesn’t feel the need to talk endlessly. They can just be together quietly, and it’s…he’s been trying to find the right word for weeks, now. Not soothing, exactly. Not quite grounding either, because you can’t ground yourself in a man who hasn’t yet formed a new identity for himself. And no one could describe Javert as soothing, because he’s a man made entirely of rough angles and bits that hurt. Even the soft parts of him have grown thorns. Maybe secure is the closest description, because memories won’t let him go with safe either. Javert’s like a boat on rough sea, one he’s tethered to on a long rope. He can swim for a while, and float for a while, but when he feels like he might go under he gets reeled in, and can lie down away from the waves until he’s collected himself again. The boat might leak a bit, and threaten to capsize every now and again – but it doesn’t go away. Somewhere, somehow, he’s come to rely on it being there.

He sets the barbell back on its stand, and sits up to take a drink. Javert’s eyes flick up to meet his from where he’s sitting on the sofa. He’s been engrossed in that book for hours, and it doesn’t look like much fun judging by the concentration on his face.

‘Hey. You OK?’

Again, no words. Javert just nods, and returns his attention to his page. He looks a bit uncomfortable, and Valjean feels a slight stab of guilt. It probably is too hot in here, but he’s only got a couple of sets of chin-ups to do. He’ll turn the heat down after that.

 

*

 

The agony is partly self-inflicted. He could stay away on Saturdays, or come later. The rest of it comes from Valjean’s messed-up brain chemistry, or what was done to him, or both, because it means he suffers badly from sensory overload. Part of which means he doesn’t like the restriction of clothes, doesn’t like anything in constant contact with his legs. He’s OK when he’s out and distracted. But when he’s alone, in bed, working out, he never wears more than he has to. It’s torture, all of it. Case in point: the very rare times they share a bed. Case in extra-painful point: Valjean on display right now, wearing nothing but an obscenely short pair of shorts.

The bed should be worse, but it isn’t. It doesn’t happen very often, and at least he gets to feel him against his back. It’s reassuring in more ways than one; just to be near him, and also because it proves that it’s not only him that suffers. Every time it’s happened – three times, that’s all since Christmas – he wakes up knowing that at least one part of Valjean wants it like he does. Javert’s never allowed to touch the cock that presses against his butt in the night, but knowing it’s there does wonders for his soul. And last time, three weeks ago, a hand wandered over his hip and finally gave him some relief. They don’t talk about it. What’s there to say? He’s done begging the man to fuck him, because it’s never brought anything but pain before. Now the pleading is only in his head, while he’s reading, or in class, or at work, or on all fours on his bed, biting his pillow with his ass in the air, pulling frantically at his never-satisfied dick.

But no, this is worse. Because Valjean’s fucking beautiful, and covered in sweat, and those muscles are enough to drive anyone out of their mind. And because the guilt these Saturday afternoons bring shames him into never doing a thing about it. Another one of the problems is, he knows he’s an out-and-out bottom. On every other day of the week, his dreams consist of himself being bent over something, held down, tied up, being fucked raw while he begs for it harder, and faster, and deeper, until he loses everything about himself in the sensation. He knows he’d sub for Valjean in a heartbeat. He’d kneel at his feet and follow every command gifted to him if Valjean was the type of guy who’d want that, or ever ask for it. He’ll never say it out loud, because it’s the one thing that’ll ensure he never gets to touch the man again. He can’t think of much Valjean would like less. And he can live without it. No, the problem is Saturday afternoons, and those fucking shorts.

Valjean stands up and then sets his drink on the floor, allowing the perfect view as he stretches down, highlighting the ripples of muscle across his back and over his ribs. Sweat has made his hair curl and stick to his nape, but fluffed out the rest so it’s only too easy to imagine how soft it’d be if fingers were allowed to run through it. He’s free to watch as Valjean turns to the pull-up bar on the wall, so Javert lifts his gaze and drinks it in openly. Broad shoulders flexing as he rolls them to loosen up, the way the plains of his back dip in towards his spine, inviting a tongue to lick down the bone. The way his waist tapers in, soft hair on the dip of skin gleaming right over the elasticated waistband of the shorts that look like they belong in the eighties or something. They barely cover his butt cheeks.

Javert swallows, his mouth dry. This is the best, and the very worst, part of his week. Because when Valjean reaches up to the bar, trusting him enough to show his back to him, there’s only one fantasy in Javert’s mind. It’s something he could never do, never suggest, and will never happen. But just this one day of the week, all he wants in the world is to hook a finger into the waist of those shorts, pull the man back, and make him sit on his lap. He’d open his jeans slowly, pull out his cock, and let it slide – slowly, really slowly – up the inside of Valjean’s leg. He’d slip the head into him and make him wait, just make him feel the stretch until he was panting for more. And then he’d make him ride as slow as he could bear, let him take the whole length of him and fuck himself deep, until he was spread and begging. And he’d just sit there and make him work; slip his hand between his legs and hold his balls while Valjean went up, and down, and up, and never at any speed at all, just the slightest rub where he’d need it inside, just enough to make all those muscles hard, and straining, and popping with the need to come.

And he’d watch, and maybe stroke his back, and watch his cock get sucked inside, and – worst of all – he’d say good boy, and Valjean would beg, and beg, until Javert gave in and let him rub against his palm. He’d lean forward to feel the heat of his back, breathe into his shoulder, kiss his neck, tell him he’s doing well; he’d pet him between the legs until he lost it in his shorts, and was crying with pleasure. Only then would Javert hold him close, wrap his arms around while he came inside him.

‘OK, I’m done.’

He blinks, and looks up to see Valjean standing there with his protein shake, shining all over like some angel from above. Frowning though, and looking concerned. ‘You sure you’re alright? I’m sorry, I won’t have it so hot next week.’

He shakes his head, and wets his lips. ‘It’s fine.’

‘OK. I’m just going to shower, I’ll be right out.’ 

He waits until the bedroom door’s closed before lifting the book from his lap, and gazing ruefully at the sodden crotch of his jeans. Saturday afternoons are the worst. It’s a good thing he keeps a few clothes in the spare room wardrobe but really, it’d be so much more convenient if the man would just fuck him already.