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Relativity

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Time is relative.

Morning comes and goes. Natural and neon lights play in turn across the couch and carpet, glinting in empty bottles strewn about his living room. From his seat on the floor Paul can see only the halo of light catching the locks of hair that now fall across his eyes, dusted with white powder and smattered red in places. It plays with his mind, sending streaks of fire into vision and out again.

He trembles. And morning comes again.

There is no measurement for pain. No meter or scale, only experience can judge the degree. He spasms, and aches for the discomfort long passed. Mere discomfort is looking beautiful to him now.

It's been hours since he surrendered to what sense he had left and reached for his mobile, dialing the only number he could remember in any state. He'd forgotten, for awhile, that he'd even made the call. And now, regret became as hard to swallow as... everything else.

He didn't hear the door open, and he didn't feel Tim's arms around him, lifting him up. He felt the spasms shake his body, but barely registered the sleeve of Tim's shirt as it wiped the blood away from his nose and mouth.

Time is relative. He was in the bathtub for a century of twenty two minutes.

He could feel his body float, although there was no plug in the bath. The water from the showerhead ran over them and down the drain as Tim cradled his head gently, brushing long half-dreadlocks of hair over an ear and watching the water stain pink behind them. Tim would wince, and stroke a thumb over the now-exposed cheekbone as a question.

Paul's lips trembled, and he nodded gently. Tim kissed his forehead under the patter of water, and gathered himself to lift Paul from the tub.

The moments between the bathtub and the bed passed in fragments of seconds. Here there's a towel, wrapped around him by arms he couldn't refuse, but equally, didn't deserve. Tears were wiped away by long fingers that slid into his hair and rest his head gently on a pillow. Fingers that remained entwined about him through the pain, until the next light came again.

Flying and crawling were the same sensation if you knew where you were going to land.

Feeling came more readily in the morning. From behind him Tim's embrace had not lessened, and it became a source of release for the long-building ache Paul had harbored.

And Tim would give him the peace he sought. For now it was the only act he could offer to ease the ache.

Gliding hands over muscle and flesh, he would trace the line to Paul's hips and gently draw them to his own. And Paul would arch into him, resting his head against Tim's shoulder, eyes pulled closed tight. Tim's hands move out of instinct to old, familiar places and as their pace would quicken, Paul would moan and bury his face in the pillow.

And after the ache would finally defeat them both, they came in one long spasm, trembling with heat and bliss of the release.

Time was relative. Paul couldn't remember the empty space crawling back into his bed. He didn't hear the door.

He slept. And when he woke, he would pull himself from damp sheets and stagger to the bathroom, splashing cool water on his face and pushing weak limbs into the nearest articles of clothing.

In the living room he would sit and drink water from a stained glass, staring blearily at the window and wondering why there was dried blood along his sleeve.

He would remember moments, here and there, of the mercy he was granted at four am and lift his glass in a toast. He would always be the damsel in distress, it seemed. But today it was easier to swallow.

Time is relative. And relativity was pain's only measure.