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Many thanks to Alexa C. for her encouragement and advice.
Love Taught to Lie
It was even colder in Emcity at night.
Especially when your little fucking brother was stealing the sheets right off of you, Ryan thought as he shifted just a little under the now sleeping weight of Cyril.
Ryan's whole body was warm where it was trapped under that hot, gently snoring press of Cyril's weight. Except for Ryan's bare left foot and leg, which were so fucking chilled his skin was practically tingling, his long leg hanging out from under the blanket Cyril was tucked up in. Cyril never had learned to share the covers.
Ryan stayed softly petting that long blonde hair, careful to soothe and not wake, while he contemplated whether it was okay for him to move. To escape back to his own bunk.
It hadn't been that bad of a nightmare, and thankfully Cyril had gotten back to sleep quicker than usual with Ryan's help. Ryan was torn between wanting to move...and fear of waking him back up. This happened every goddamned time, just adding to Ryan's lack of sleep.
Ryan couldn't bring himself to be all that pissed while staring down at Cyril's face.
Cyril always looked different now. The child that was all that was left of the man Ryan had used to know was clear even when he wasn't speaking. But it was just childhood all over again. Ryan knew this Cyril too. Petulant, impatient. Still tagging after Ryan in a way that Ryan...always secretly craved, reveled in underneath his annoyance. Cyril was still right by his side.
Having fucking nightmares.
In his head, and in this cell.
Because of Ryan.
That blow to the head had brought the death of the brother that Ryan had--
--couldn't think of that.
Not when his little kid brother was innocently resting on him. Not when part of his Cyril was gone forever. It was as starkly clear as a blow to the head every time Ryan looked at him.
Just turning him into a child hadn't been enough...
Ryan had taken his freedom too.
Gotten Cyril raped by those fucks.
All because of him.
Ryan closed his eyes, unable to look, even as that soft hair stayed under his fingers. Feather soft graze of his hand, too light even to tickle his palm. He wasn't sure who it was intended to soothe more -- him or Cyril.
Ryan had missed him after landing in Oz. Deep down where he tried to ignore it, Ryan had selfishly longed for his company that first year. Child Cyril, any Cyril. The person Ryan had always had by his side, always there for him. The one person he loved completely. The only real love he'd had before Gloria.
At first though, Ryan had thought the distance would be good. He'd tried to convince himself of it. It was his vain hope for something good out of his incarceration -- that it would give him time to adjust to the way Cyril was now. Ryan wouldn't have to...look at that face and remember every little thing that Cyril didn't anymore.
All those years past childhood.
Every night at the bar, every hardship. Every laugh and feeling of safety.
...Those nights in bed that had nothing to do with nightmares and snuggling. More than comfort. The best. The rough, clinging, so fucking sweet way Cyril kissed. Making Ryan feel home and a part of someone else.
It had fucking hurt to deal with all the shit that was gone staring him right in the face during that brief time after the accident. Before Oz.
Ryan had thought it might be better. The distance would help. Cyril would always be there in his heart, Ryan just wouldn't have to see that blank face and remember all the damn time.
But it didn't help. It was worse. Ryan was left with...nothing. Like part of him was absent, ripped away, and he was truly alone for the only time in his life. And it had nothing to do with long nights, dark alleys, and sins. He had no...brace. No one to lean on. No safety at his back. No other half. No Cyril at all.
He would take...anything. Even the innocence of the boy he'd grown up with. Because it was still Cyril. The love that Ryan felt for Cyril, whatever he remembered, whatever age, whichever side of the line they were on, that love Ryan got from him in return -- constant, real, and forever -- *that* hadn't gone anywhere. And that was the only thing that really mattered. Some things no amount of blunt force could ever take away from either of them.
Even if all those years in between were gone for Cyril. From the big things -- their mother's death, the years afterwards, their climb up in the gang, every scar, every girl in between, every big life change side by side -- to the little memories that meant more, like perfecting their card game, who won which bet, all the dirty limericks at three in the morning, the time Ryan had drunk Cyril under the table and then passed out beside him (Okay, that had possibly been more than one time, and sometimes Ryan dropped first). Just every time that Ryan had needed...someone to care and stay, and Cyril had been there.
And then there was the rest, the things that had come alive during the time all those other things were going on. The shadow side of their life, the real one that they had hidden and kept just for them, tucked away where they needed it. Somewhere tangled up in those card games, late nights, and traumas there were those kisses and touches that evolved from the comfort. Starting from way back when they were first discovering the joy in other bodies, the slide of skin, sweat, and moans...and had found that provided by each other also. Shifting, slipping over the boundary lines of a relationship that hadn't ever felt solid enough to them to stop them, hold them back. Until it was too late, too good to care if they had gotten closer than they ever should have in the opinion of anyone else. Because no one else saw. No one else felt what they did. Their love. To them...it was just another scarily beautiful thing they had found with it.
After the accident...Cyril had gotten a clean slate. He was untainted by what came later with age, after they discovered the pleasure of twisting touch and stained sheets.
Ryan was going to keep it that way now, that wasn't the problem. But Ryan was forced to confront what he had lost every second he had been around Cyril since the accident. Cyril was a little kid. The one Ryan remembered just as fondly from when he was one too. The thought of going back to what they had turned to when they had started to grow stubble and urges churned his stomach with disgust. Because of that face. That voice. Ryan just saw Cyril at 8 years old. That cluelessness. Innocence. And every time it was a reminder of what was gone.
Maybe it was better that he didn't remember. Despite Ryan's ache for what they'd found. Maybe Cyril had forgotten for a reason. Maybe...it was a gift.
Ryan may have missed the whole of what had been...but he still had Cyril. The heart of Cyril. And it was the same. Cyril at his back. By his side. That was all that really mattered. He had realized it painfully that first year.
So, Ryan got over that loss. Had to. There was no going back to something everyone else would say they never should have had in the first place. They went back to before. This. Still comforting each other with touch and nearness, with solidarity...but without that slide of skin and gasp of mouths.
Ryan had always wondered about that day...
The day of the accident.
Cyril was usually always his lookout. Ryan kept wondering if maybe Cyril had let him be discovered with that chick on purpose. Out of jealousy. That same little twinge Ryan had felt every time Cyril had taken to some girl.
Just made it more Ryan's fault.
Ryan felt...guilt. A sick tugging hurt in his heart.
He wasn't used to it.
It fucking gnawed at him, even when he kept it tucked away to survive, when he plowed through it to do what had to be done. When he lost sight of Cyril's needs for his own -- he always felt it afterwards. The only time he felt things like that.
The only guilt Ryan had ever really felt was tied up with Cyril. Was for Cyril. Just like all that warmth and comfort was. All the love. Until Gloria.
And Ryan still only felt that gnaw now because Cyril had gotten caught. If he could do it over...he would be so much more careful. With Cyril, more than Gloria.
Cyril's screaming, crying nightmares hurt more than Gloria's angry words and tears ever had. They cut Ryan to the quick. Made Ryan understand just what he had done when he used Cyril.
And it was never worse than it was in these moments. Trapped under Cyril after another bad night. Everything he had lost, all the damage he had caused, and his futile attempts to make it better. Just like when they were kids, except it wasn't their Pop's fault this time.
It was Ryan's.
Ryan sighed and shifted again, finally stopping that soothing stroke over Cyril's sleeping head. He tested Cyril's sleep with the tiny movement of his body as he opened his eyes. Cyril's grip on him tightened in response, lines creasing his face in sleep, immediately halting Ryan's movement.
Ryan grimaced at the crick in his neck, the back of his head and his shoulder starting to go numb from his partial uncomfortable slouch against the wall. Fucking painful...but it wasn't really that. That was nothing more than annoying. Ryan was used to warring for space with sleeping Cyril. He'd done it all his life. Ryan couldn't sleep here though, not really. Not now.
Too afraid he would dream of...Cyril from before the accident. Afraid he would be lost in it that second he woke up -- and come to like they used to. Hard and kissing fiercely...before Ryan's memory would kick back in leave him opening his eyes to a regression that Ryan had no desire to do that to.
Who knows what the fuck Cyril would do.
What if it made him remember?
Made him...hate Ryan. Because this Cyril couldn't understand that it was something they both had wanted. Found together. Couldn't grasp it now, like little kids thought all kissing was disgusting and ran from girls.
He would run from Ryan.
It would be better if he never remembered.
Ryan sure as hell wished he could forget...
...maybe then he wouldn't still ache so much. Wouldn't have had to cling to Gloria so tight.
Ryan decided to give himself ten more minutes there, trapped under Cyril's warmth, before he pried himself out.
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