Isaac's eyes fluttered open, remaining half-lidded as he quietly listened.
He let go of the breath he'd been holding, the fear that the strange noise had brought on subsiding as he became aware of what exactly it was. A heartbeat...steady and hushed. Cain's heartbeat, to be exact. A sound that was completely foreign and yet so familiar, Isaac wanted to hold it up to his ear like a seashell frisked up by the waves. Swallowing the sleep in his throat, Isaac painstakingly rolled over and pressed his face into Cain's chest, letting the heartbeat pulse through him.
Cain's hand came at his back, warm from being under the covers all night, his fingers stroking small circles just under the younger boy's shoulder blades. Isaac shivered, and momentarily thought of pulling away before casting the thought aside and simply allowing himself to relax. So what if Cain touched him? They'd spent the entire night in the same bed, for God's sake! Not much else could top that. Well...not much else except...
Isaac coughed, his face growing warm.
You okay? Cain whispered, his lips nearly brushing the younger boy's ear. Isaac nodded, his throat burning as he sat up in the wide bed and ran a cold hand over his face. He traced the cuts around his mouth with his fingertips, faintly wondering if any of them would leave scars. Such minor thoughts were cast aside when Cain's arms came around him from behind, clasping against his stomach...too low for Isaac's comfort. Do they hurt? Cain muttered, attempting to touch at one of the cuts himself.
What do you think? Isaac snapped, his voice cracking as he turned his head away. Cain pressed his lips into a firm line and brought his hand forward, faster this time, swiftly taking Isaac's chin in his palm and turning his face until their eyes met. Why would they hurt you like this? he asked, making it seem as though he was talking more to himself than the other, Wasn't once enough? Isaac smiled grimly, hyperaware of Cain's chest against his back.
You don't know the whole story.
Catching the goosebumps that had started to form over Isaac's bare shoulders, Cain slid his hand over one of the thick covers on the bed and tugged it snugly around the younger boy's frame, not missing the opportunity to brush his fingers through Isaac's hair. So, he muttered, clutching Isaac's wrists as he made a move to pull away, enlighten me?
Isaac glared at the older boy's fingers gripping tightly around his wrists, silently hating himself for being so weak compared to him. He shook his head, tugging half-heartedly as memories of that night came seeping back; a leaking faucet in his memory. The silence between them stretched. Cain loosened his hold and rested his chin on the younger boy's shoulder, smiling at the frustration in Isaac's dark eyes. I'm not letting you get up until you tell me, he muttered.
Isaac stared hard at his hands, letting his gaze wander up to where Cain's fingers pressed against his skin. He really hoped the older boy was used to disappointments because the chances of him talking were about one in a milli-
The breath froze in his chest. A faint sound of surprise fell from Cain's lips as Isaac leaned back hard, twisting his arm around until it was his fingers around Cain's wrist. Ignoring the way Cain winced behind him, Isaac jerked his hand forward until the bottom of the wrist flashed palely in the dim-light. Even in the near dark Isaac could see it clearly...the hairline slit of white that weaved its way from the middle of Cain's forearm to the edge of his palm.
Isaac looked up at Cain, for the first time, with a complete loss for words. His dark eyes wide, brow pulled together. You...tried to... Cain smiled ruefully, turning his hand over and reforming the original bindings. No, he said softly, that was never my intention. I used to cut myself when I was younger...I liked the pain; but one time...I cut too deep on accident. My family disowned me before I was released from the hospital. My father ran a growing business. He didn't need a bad-reputation like me ruining it for him.
Cain slid his arms away from Isaac's waist, folding them behind his head and falling back on the mattress with a wide yawn; Isaac bobbed with the movement. He stared down at Cain thoughtfully for several moments, tracing his fingers over his own wrists as he did so. Never once...not within all the pain and all the beatings had he ever considered suicide. Scowling, Isaac flopped back down next to Cain, close enough to touch. Don't expect me to feel sorry for you, he said firmly, curiously watching the smile that opened the older boy's lips.
Isaac touched lightly at his side, flinching as he curled his legs up to his chest, knees brushing Cain's arm. Hey, Cain? The older boy hummed to show he was listening. Isaac closed his eyes and took a deep breath, Do you remember...when you said you were going to save me? The older boy's eyes slid open, gaze turning to Isaac's. Why...what did you mean? When you said that? You didn't even know me.
Cain chuckled, abruptly rolling over and pulling Isaac against him, I'm just an old romantic. Honestly, nearly dying did me some good. Life's too short to be living it all for yourself, he pressing his lips softly against the younger boy's forehead, so I decided to live for someone else. Isaac gritted his teeth and kicked back with his knees, hearing the breath leave Cain's chest with a satisfying rush. He rolled to the edge of the bed and swung his legs down to the floor, ignoring the way the room was starting to spin.
Cain chuckled only after the air returned to his lungs.
* * *
The car rolled to a smooth stop at the curb, it's short black body reflecting the image of the house it was parked in front of. Isaac popped the door open and pushed it with his shoulder, not waiting for Cain who had jumped out before him and moved around the car as if to open his door as well. He pushed the older boy's hand away and shakily got to his feet, leaning heavily on the body of the car for support. His body still rang with pain, but it was muted compared to the fire that had burned in his skin the day before.
The sidwalk was patterned with light drops of rain, the air heavy with moisture. Beyond the nearest streetlamp all that could be seen was fog. Wavering without the support of the car, Isaac slid his hands into his pockets and started toward the house, pausing once at the gate. He glanced at Cain over his shoulder, confused by the twang of regret that reverberated in his chest.
"I never wanted to be in a gang," Isaac said without turning, knowing even then that the older boy was listening, "when I started running with that group...that's all we were. Friends. But some of them had different ideas...and things started getting...scary. Older people started hanging around. One of them, one of the guys, started acting like...a leader of sorts. And that was that."
Isaac took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair, feeling the heat gather in his face, "Our...leader...he started asking for initiations for all the new 'members', including those who had been a part of the original group. It was mostly small stuff. But with me...I don't know, he always looked at me differently, from the start. He...he asked me to sleep with him...and I said no." Isaac gripped the fence until his knuckles turned white, refusing to turn his eyes to where he knew Cain would be watching. "That's why I quit. That's why they hate me. And..." he pressed a palm flat against his chest, finally turning to face the older boy, "I have this bad feeling that it's not over. That...he's not going to stop until he gets what he wants."
A distant peel of thunder rolled from somewhere beyond the rooftops.
Cain nodded, leaning back against the car and crossing his feet on the curb, a dark smile stealing its way across his face, "I won't let them hurt you anymore. I promise...so long as I'm in reach, none of them will get you."
Isaac pressed his lips together tightly, returning his gaze to the sidewalk as he stepped inside the gate. He hesitated at the doorway, hand resting lightly on the knob as he glanced over his shoulder, a smile tugging at his lips. "You'll pick me up tomorrow then?"
The rain started falling in ernest.
Cain grinned, "Of course."