Emerson shook his head at Mason’s remarks and began focusing on his task. Well, he tried to focus. That was as good as it was going to get. The boxes were being very frustrating, too; not cooperating. He really loved Mason to be able to actually listen to him and do things like this. Hell, his own mother couldn’t get Emerson to do anything for her. At least on her time. But Mason was different. Emerson was someone else when he was around him. Sure, he was still spunky and rather hyperactive but Mason brought out a new aspect within him that Emerson didn’t know existed. A much more…dedicated side. He was determined to make Mason proud of him with this job, despite the damn box slicing his finger. The plates though! He thought they’d done so well through the travel! Shaking his head, Emerson frowned down at the broken pieces of a plate. “So sad…” he sighed. Mason must have heard him and when he heard his voice Emerson jumped up into the air, flinging some of the pieces he’d picked up onto the ground. Whoops.
“Oh!” he exclaimed, whipping around to see Mason in the doorway. Ugh, was he really his? He was so adorable standing there in his mason-esque attire. Blushing not only from his clothes but for being caught in the act, Emerson chuckled. “I…yeah! Everything is…good.” He clasped his hands behind his back and pretended his finger wasn’t slightly bleeding. It wasn’t like he was cut by a knife. “I was trying to have fun unpacking. The box was trying to murder me and we lost a plate…it’s a very sad day…” Hanging his head, Emerson faked a sob. “What are we going to do!? Now we have an odd number of plates and a box that turned against us and and and…” Emerson took a deep breath, holding up his finger to show the tiny evidence of blood. “And I’m bleeding!” He ran to Mason as if he was really desperate and flung his arms around him. Emerson loved finding excuses to have himself touching Mason. “What is going on!?” Emerson laughed against Mason’s neck and kissed the soft skin before pulling away and grinning. “We did lose a plate and my finger does kind of sting. But I think we’ll survive.” He’d survive anything as long as he had Mason with him. He loved him so much already. He’d stay in this apartment forever with Mason if the other man would have him. Please don’t ever leave me, he silently begged.
As Emerson jumped, Mason quickly hid a smile. He blinked as he saw the pieces of the plate, however, biting his lip. Ah, well, he couldn’t have expected everything to make the trip in one piece. Especially when he added Emerson into the equation. “I’m sorry you’re having such a hardship here.” Mason couldn’t help but smile when he said it. “I’ll come relieve you, don’t worry.” He couldn’t keep himself away from Emerson, if he was being completely honest. Who knew that he’d fall for someone so opposite him? They were almost nothing alike, but still…Mason couldn’t get Emerson out of his head. Or his heart, for that matter. But that was another story. They did have a job to do right now, and Mason wanted to make sure it was done right. Or…as right as they could make it. He couldn’t possibly have accounted for everything Emerson was capable of.
Mason winced when he saw Emerson’s finger, but couldn’t help a smile once Emerson’s arms were around him. He wrapped his arms around Emerson’s waist and nuzzled into his neck. It was over far too soon, in his opinion, but Mason moved quickly. He wrapped his fingers around Emerson’s wrist, tugging him over to the sink. “That looks terrible! Come here.” Mason turned on the water, testing it with his own hand before sticking Emerson’s finger under the stream. “I left you alone for five minutes,” he said with an exasperated tone. Mason felt nothing but love for Emerson, however. Even if Emerson might not entirely feel the same way, Mason knew he’d love him until the day he died. “You’re always getting into trouble. You’re lucky you have me.”
“What am I? Your pet?” Emerson joked, pinching Mason’s side and giving his neck some gentle love bites. “Fine, fine. I’ll explore later and do all the boring things now. It’ll be torture, but if I don’t you’re gonna start pulling the ‘make Emerson guilty’ card. And I hate the card.” Because Mason’s puppy dog eyes were unreal. He was good at them and he knew just how to make Emerson fall down to his knees (in more ways than one…) for him. Emerson sighed as he watched Mason find a box for him. He threw his head back as the box was placed gently in his arms and he groaned. “This is like getting a lump of coal for Christmas. It’s a box, I unwrap things like a present and surprise! …it’s a dish.” Turning on his heel in an almost clumsy fashion, Emerson tried to regain his footing (“OH Shit!” he cried) so he didn’t throw the dishes everywhere, and kept walking. Turning over his shoulder, he caught a slight smile on Mason’s face and he quickly read (as best he could) what the box was. “That’s not fairrr,” he sang, “you get to unpack something you like!” Most of his complaining was fake, honestly. He usually did complain, however, in this situation it was different. This was…their place. They were supposed to do these things together. Emerson couldn’t be a kid forever. Or pretend he was one, anyway. Unpacking dishes was like going through a midlife crisis or….something. He didn’t know. But somehow he’d look back on this and say “Yep, I unpacked those dishes. I did a good job, too.” Maybe? Eh, whatever.
Setting the box on the ground in front of the counter, Emerson unhooked the flaps from each other. His finger slid past the edge and a burning sensation erupted on the side. “GODDAM-” he yelped, cutting off his curse with the bite of his lip. “You’re a brown box how the hell did you win the battle!?” If it wasn’t full of fragile objects Emerson would’ve kicked it. Gripping his finger at the base, Emerson watched as a thin line of blood oozed out. Pointing the finger down at the box, he glared. “This isn’t over yet. Once your insides are disemboweled, I will make sure you can never serve your purpose ever again.” Emerson brought the finger to his lip and sucked whatever blood he had pushed out then crouched back down. “Round two,” he mumbled, more careful this time. Mason clearly took the time to make sure things were carefully placed in the box, separated by newspapers and all sorts of jazz. He was a tedious guy, someone Emerson needed around to keep him straight. Hell, Emerson would’ve just thrown them all in the box and hoped for the best. Of course Mason wasn’t like that and dish after dish, Emerson was proud of him more and more. Everything was in tip top shape. Grabbing the utensils and trying to fit them all in the drawer in an orderly fashion was difficult but that was fine. If Mason really wanted it another way he could re do it. Not having enough arms to get all the dishes, Emerson had to go back for a few. The clatter from earlier was discovered and Emerson let out a dramatic whimper. “Oh no!” he cried, “A casualty!” Hanging his head, Emerson put a hand over his heart. “You held many meals for a good, long time. You will be missed.” He was finding his own fun with this, and if his boyfriend thought he was weird, well, he couldn’t back out now, could he?
“Yes, you are,” Mason said with a straight face, trying to hold his expression despite the feel of Emerson’s lips on his neck. “You. Unpack. You know me too well.” Mason could no longer hide his smile. It was impossible to keep from smiling around Emerson. Still, he had to ask… “What did you think moving entailed? You have to unpack things, Emerson.” Mason eyed him, a slight smile on his face. He knew Emerson hated sitting around, hated all the boring things. Maybe there was some way to make it fun? “If you do a good job, you’ll get a present. Your choice. Okay?” Nevermind the fact that he didn’t know what he would do. Emerson would pick something. Hopefully not too terrible. “But only if you unpack nicely.” At least that would keep him in line. Maybe. Mason wasn’t really sure how much he could control his boyfriend. Emerson was unruly at the best of times, and Mason still hadn’t found a real way of making him sit still for more than a few minutes. Always moving, always looking for something new. That was Emerson, whereas Mason could sit still for hours, just focused on one thing. Maybe that was why they worked so well together. He turned away to head to the bedroom (but not before seeing Emerson nearly trip, which got a chuckle out of him). “Dishes, Emerson. You like food, don’t you?” He shook his head and walked down the hallway to their future bedroom.
Mason set the box down on the floor, surveying the room. It wasn’t big, much like the rest of their apartment, but it felt like home already. Or maybe that was just him being optimistic. Mason couldn’t really tell, but he knew he was in a good mood. That was the most important thing. He was happy, and he was finally settling down with Emerson, and they’d be together. Hopefully forever. Mason didn’t want to get too optimistic (he knew first hand how flighty Emerson could be) but he couldn’t help himself. He was in love, he spent ages thinking about the rest of his life with Emerson. Maybe one day they’d get married. But that was a long way in the future. They’d been dating for a while, and they were just moving in together. Why plan so far ahead? Mason shook his head to banish the thought and opened the box, running his fingers over the spines. His favourite things, possibly with the exception of Emerson. Mason didn’t really have a shelf to put the books on yet (it still had to be unpacked…) but he wanted a moment to himself. This was their home now. Mason knew he couldn’t force things, of course (he had learned that from experience) but he hoped that Emerson felt the same way he did. Mason wanted to spend forever with him. Dammit, he got attached so easily. A commotion from the kitchen interrupted his train of thought, and Mason poked his head out into the hallway. He smiled fondly. Emerson was a good guy. Sweet, and funny, and smart in his own way. And Mason loved him so much. With a sigh, he walked out into the hallway and peeked into the kitchen. “Everything okay? You’re making a lot of noise…”
Emerson just wanted to push his nightmare away. He didn’t want to be bothered with the images anymore. Especially with Mason wrapped around him, warm and comforting. He could’ve died himself in those arms. Mason didn’t know what Emerson saw, he didn’t feel it. And Emerson wished he hadn’t as well. But all he needed to do was forget about it. Somehow. Just to forget about it. Mason was…God, his boyfriend was wonderful. Everything Emerson could ever need. He knew him well, too. Hot chocolate and cookies? The offer made a small smile turn up on his lips and he tried to dodge the poke at his side. Sniffling like a mess, Emerson nuzzled his face into Mason’s chest to hopefully get most of the tears away. He ran a hand through Mason’s hair and kissed his cheek. “T-that’d be…that’d be n-nice,” he whispered against his skin. It was just a nightmare. It’s over! He wasn’t a murderer. Maybe…he shouldn’t have eaten cheese before he went to bed. His mind always thought up horrible things when he did that. Emerson at least hoped it was something simple like that. He wasn’t going mad. And how could he? Looking into Mason’s big, brown eyes was all he needed to keep himself grounded. To be sane.
Running a hand down Mason’s arm, Emerson tangled their fingers together and kissed the back of his boyfriend’s hand. “Maybe…we can go to the bookstore today, yeah? M-maybe?” Books-especially new ones-always made Mason happy. They made him smile. After that nightmare feeling like an eternity, and seeing the pain on Mason’s face, Emerson wanted to see a true smile. He wanted to see Mason get excited. He…needed to see him happy. Had to. Reluctantly slipping out of bed, tugging Mason with him (no way was he letting him out of his sight-he could fall back into thinking the nightmare was real), Emerson slipped on his moccasins and wrapped his arms around Mason’s waist. He prayed that a good day today would ward anymore nightmares off tonight. One thing’s for sure: Emerson was going to be along every inch of Mason in the bed tonight. A glance over to Mason, perfectly okay, and Emerson gave a deep sigh of relief. He wasn’t a murderer. He wasn’t insane. They were in love and happy. Staying that way.
Things seemed to be getting better. Emerson was calming down, but Mason was only getting more protective. He just wanted to wrap around Emerson, to protect him from the rest of the world. Nobody could touch Emerson when he was there. Nobody else would hurt him. Mason wrapped his arms a little tighter around Emerson, one hand on the back of his head. His hair felt soft, albeit a little messy. Just like Emerson was. That thought made him smile. “Come on. I want to spoil you.” Mason leaned down and kissed Emerson’s hair, nuzzling into his curls. He loved seeing the look on Emerson’s face when he was happy, or surprised. The good kind of surprised, though, not like this. Not the shock, or the terror. So he did his best to keep Emerson happy and content. That was his job. If Emerson had a bad dream, Mason would do his best to keep it from affecting him too bad. He’d make sure Emerson knew he was happy, safe, loved.
Mason smiled at Emerson, squeezing his boyfriend’s hand. He was glad that he could still do things to help Emerson. Even the smallest bit seemed to help, and that made Mason happy. “The bookstore? I’d love that.” Emerson almost never suggested going to look at books. That alone should have been an indication of how bad things had gotten, but Mason preferred to look on the bright side whenever possible. He smiled at Emerson, leaning in and pressing their lips together. Mason sighed when Emerson got out of bed, but crawled after him. Quickly finding a discarded sweater, Mason pulled it on over his tear-stained shirt. He wrapped himself back around Emerson. Mason didn’t want to be too far away from him, especially after what had happened. The idea of losing his boyfriend was terrifying, especially when there wasn’t any physical enemy you could fight. It was all in Emerson’s head, and that was the worst feeling in the world. “I love you,” he murmured. He would always love Emerson. They’d go have their little snack, they’d snuggle for a long time. Emerson would get better. He wouldn’t look so afraid. Hopefully Mason would get to see that smile again. He loved it so much.
Emerson walked into the “master” bedroom where he and Mason would be staying. It was a good size; something he could see their bed in with enough room for whatever Mason planned. He was the planner with all of this. Emerson just tagged along. Being a guy of impulse, Emerson just did things. He wasn’t into thinking them through. Honestly, Emerson was even surprised he began looking for apartments with Mason. He wasn’t a bad person, but he also didn’t stick around long. He’d get bored fairly quickly with whoever he was with and jump to the next one. This, in retrospect, was the longest relationship he’d had with someone. And…he had no regrets. Everything about Mason was intriguing. He fascinated Emerson in a way no one else could. Mason had a sense of humor that could bring Emerson to tears from laughing so hard. It was the way his expressions worked with his words. It was the way he remembered the little things about Emerson. It was…the way Mason was. Everything made Emerson happy. Not many people could captivate him like Mason could. He was smart, spectacular, and pretty. Despite how dense that may sound. Emerson liked a man he could gaze at. Possibly longingly like those cheesy romance flicks. Emerson was in love. And he fell in love more each day.
Taking a few steps forward to the window, Emerson chewed his lip as he looked at the scenery. They were nice apartments. Perfect for what they had wanted. And hey, their bedroom was outside walls, no one around, therefore he could get Mason as loud as he wanted him. Now that didn’t really apply to the living room or kitchen because-ugh-neighbors. But he could fix that with that. Games were fun when he and Mason got it on. Don’t make a sound or I won’t let you come. Oh, that had been a good one. Grinning mischievously, Emerson giggled. Where was Leo with the damn bed already? Guess they didn’t need one. Knowing Mason he’d keep them on the strict plan for a little bit longer today before they could have some real fun making this apartment really theirs. However, if the damn guy kept speaking another language he wasn’t going to get very far with his little list of things to do. Because Emerson would change it right away. Spinning around, shaking off the flush that Mason’s voice in French seemed to give him, Emerson bounded out of the bedroom and down the hall to the mountains of boxes and his lovely boyfriend. A giant smile spread across his face and his arms snaked around Mason’s waist. Letting his lips sprinkle their way down Mason’s neck, Emerson chuckled. “Must you? I was exploring and you go and do that? Better not have been calling me any bad names.” His fingers wrapped around Mason’s wrist as his eyes glinted, glancing up to lock onto the other pair. “Or I’ll have to punish you,” he sang.
“It’s the only way to actually make you come when you’re called. You can explore later, chère ” Although there were a few other tricks he had learned. They really only worked when Emerson was in the room though. Mason smiled and leaned in, pressing a kiss to Emerson’s cheek. “No punishing. Only good things, I promise. You need to help unpack now.” He unwrapped himself from Emerson’s grip, and picked up a box. He shook it gently, hearing something clatter around inside. Oh, he hoped nothing was broken. “Sounds like dishes.” Sure enough, it was one of the KITCHEN boxes. Emerson probably didn’t want to unpack though. All the boring parts of living were never enough to keep him hooked. And Mason certainly didn’t want to do things all on his own. They had more than enough to unpack, even if the two of them worked around the clock. But in all the time he had spent learning about Emerson, Mason had discovered a few things. He worked harder when there was a reward involved, for one. Especially when it was something he really wanted. “You go unpack this one. Dishes go in the top left cabinet, utensils in the drawer underneath. Can you do that?” Without waiting for an answer, Mason pushed the box towards Emerson and found a new one. BOOKS. Excellent. That was going right to the bedroom.
Mason didn’t know exactly what it was. He couldn’t sleep if his room didn’t have at least a bookshelf in it. It made staying at hotels interesting. No matter how much Emerson wrapped around him, Mason couldn’t get comfortable. So obviously he’d like to have things set up beforehand. If Leo ever got around to bringing the bed. “If Leo comes by, smack him. Okay?” He was always late, without fail. Normally Mason could deal with it, but now it was just getting to be slightly annoying. Mason picked up his books and headed down the hallway to the bedroom. Their bedroom. The thought made him smile. Mason loved Emerson more than anything. He could hardly bear it. And now they were actually going to live together. It was a big step. And if he was being honest, Mason had had his doubts. Emerson had always been…flighty. He had a short attention span. And it was reasonable to think Mason might have exhausted his welcome. He wasn’t entirely sure how people could find him interesting. But if Emerson wanted to be with him, Mason really had no complaints. He loved Emerson with his whole heart and soul. Nothing could change that. And now things really were…permanent. They had an apartment. They’d make it their home.
Emerson whimpered a bit more, his boyfriend’s arms slowly calming him down, slowly bringing him comfort. His words were sweet-unbelievably so-but he didn’t see what Emerson saw. Mason couldn’t possible know the nightmare Emerson had experience. He was scared of himself. Emerson vowed he’d never tell Mason any details. He loved Mason with his whole heart and scaring him off was definitely not something Emerson planned to do. But God all Emerson could think about was how his hands had seemed to feel around Mason’s neck. So…powerful. He never thought of hands as something that could kill someone. But he’d killed his boyfriend. A strangled sob escaped him before Emerson nuzzled into Mason’s chest some more. “Safe…safe…” he whispered through tears. “You’re safe,” he murmured so softly Mason probably couldn’t hear. Emerson wouldn’t hurt him outside his nightmares. He could never. Emerson could only hope that nightmare didn’t occur again. He wasn’t sure what he would do if it happened again tonight. Once was bad enough.
Emerson’s hands on Mason helped a lot, too. He could feel how solid and alive he was. No bones showing. Healthy. Very much alive and well. Yes. If he’d woken up to Mason not there only the Lord knew what panic Emerson would have gone into. But his hands were running down Mason’s sides, cupping his face, touching everywhere. And it was the best knowledge he could’ve been given. Emerson usually was the one to have his arms around Mason in a protective manner, despite the size difference, but Mason having the role was more helpful than anything right now. His strong arms around him, Emerson couldn’t help but give a sigh of relief. His nose buried into Mason’s neck and Emerson took in the familiar smell. “A-a-a bad dream. Y-yeah,” he confirmed, nodding his head. “You’re mine, all mine…I’d never hurt you.” His tears were dwindling and his breathing returning to a somewhat normal rhythm. Every now and then Emerson’s breath would quicken in a threat to panic but Mason’s warmth, his smell, his body, everything, was his protection against anything bad. The kiss on his forehead brought a small smile to his lips, and as their legs tangled together, Emerson ran his fingers down Mason’s spine. Looking up at Mason through puffy, teary eyes, Emerson sniffled and gulped. “Don’t ever doubt how much you mean to me. Ever. Or how much I love you. I promise I’ll never hurt you. I couldn’t survive it.” And that was the greatest truth he’d ever know. He’d protect Mason from anything. Even if it meant himself.
When Emerson whimpered, Mason could feel his heart break all over again. Hearing sounds like that meant something was wrong. He was doing something wrong, not taking care of Emerson. That’s not how it was supposed to work. And Mason hated that he didn’t know exactly what was wrong. He couldn’t do anything to stop the hurt that Emerson was feeling. Mason didn’t even know why Emerson was so scared. That had to be it at least, fear. From the way Emerson was shaking, there couldn’t be anything else. He hadn’t been specific about his nightmare either. Whether that was fortunate or unfortunate was anybody’s guess. Mason just wasn’t sure how to react anymore. He was scared for Emerson. His heart literally hurt for him. But there wasn’t much he could do.
Mason pressed a kiss to Emerson’s cheek, holding him tight. Normally it was the other way around. They fit well together like this, though. Even though they were around the same height, Mason was still bigger. He liked knowing that, knowing he could protect Emerson if he had to. Even if he was just protecting Emerson from his thoughts. He’d do anything he could to keep him safe. Emerson had done so many things for him before. Why not repay the favour? It was the least he could do. “All yours. I’m here.” Mason knew Emerson would never hurt him. They were in love, had been for a long time. Why would you hurt somebody you loved? Okay, so he didn’t know what Emerson had been dreaming about. Obviously it was nothing good. But right now, he knew that didn’t matter. All he knew was that Emerson was hurting, and it was his job to make him better. No matter what it took. Mason smiled softly, brushing Emerson’s hair away from his face. “I could never doubt you. I love you too much. And I know you love me too. Okay?” Emerson was perfect in every way. Sure, he could be overwhelming at times, but Mason wouldn’t change a single hair on his head. Not for anything. “I love you, Emerson. Don’t forget that.” Nothing Emerson did could change that. As Mason lay there, he had an idea. It was just a small one, but he thought it might work. Maybe it would help. “How about we try to make you feel better. I can make some hot chocolate if you want. And cookies?” He smiled at Emerson, poking his side. Baking was always fun, even if it was late-or early. And Emerson liked his cooking, right? So really, it was a win-win scenario. if not, they could just go back to sleep. Mason would make sure to stay extra close this time, to protect Emerson from any more bad dreams.
Dishes? Check. Towels? Check. Books? Definite check.
Mason looked over the boxes piled in the front hallway. It was hard to believe that they could pack up their whole lives into just a few boxes. Well more than a few. But his point still stood. This was everything they owned, crammed into a tiny hallway. Mason couldn’t help but feel a little lost as he studied the stacks. It was such a big decision, making the move. But they’d had so much fun picking out the apartment together. He remembered visiting so many, and this one…just seemed to fit. It wasn’t incredibly big, of course. That would be a little too far out of their price range. But it wasn’t so cramped either. And the decision had definitely been spurred on by Emerson detailing all of the dirty things he’d do to Mason in this room, or that one. The thought still made him blush, even though he had been dating Emerson for a year. Shouldn’t he have been used to it by now? Somehow, Mason didn’t think he’d ever understand why Emerson did the things he did. Of course, he enjoyed every second. And now they had an apartment all to themselves. It was just the right size for them, and all of their belongings. Speaking of which, what would they start unpacking first? Mason figured they’d need somewhere to sit. And sleep. They couldn’t just sleep on the floor. But no, they’d agreed to go furniture shopping tomorrow. At least for a table and some chairs. Mason knew Leo was bringing the mattress by later. So should they start with the bed frame? Why was it so hard to make a decision!?
With a sigh, he forced his way through the maze of boxes and started moving things out of the way. They at least needed a way to get in and out of the apartment. Where was Emerson anyway? He had run off as soon as they’d gotten out of the car. Exploring, he called it. Disappearing, more like. Abandoning Mason to do all the work. At least they’d splurged and hired some people to help them move the boxes up to the apartment. But with the movers gone, it was eerily quiet. Mason sighed and sat down on a box labelled KITCHEN. Organizing was exhausting. Emerson was no help either. But at the same time…underneath all the stress, Mason was excited. He was actually moving in with someone. Not just anyone, but Emerson. Mason still wasn’t entirely sure how he’d managed to make Emerson fall for him. But he didn’t care, because he was in love. Even the thought was enough to make him smile. “Bienvenue,” he murmured. Welcome home. They’d make it their home. And eventually-maybe?-they’d have a family too. Mason sighed happily, standing up and looking down the hallway. “Emerson? Où êtes-vous?”
Emerson almost panicked even more when Mason didn’t say anything at first. The moment he heard his voice, though, Emerson broke down even more. He was okay. Mason was safe. Of course Emerson felt a bit…off now that his dream was very vivid in his mind but he could work through that so long as Mason was here, not dead, and not an emotionless, tortured lover. Emerson couldn’t believe he’d done such a thing in his nightmare. They’d never been like that before. Usually he’d just have dreams about a date night going wrong because the waiter dumped water on Mason or something. Never…never like this. And it hurt. Emerson literally felt a pain in his chest. His arms squeezed around Mason tighter and he tried to calm down his crying as he buried his nose into Mason’s neck, soaked in his familiar scent.
His breathing was uneven and sniffled didn’t really help. His face was tear stained and Emerson rubbed at his eyes to make them stop coming but it wasn’t working. Giving up, he decided to just let himself cry as his hands trailed up and down Mason’s body, taking note in how it wasn’t malnourished nor frail. He was Mason. Healthy Mason; full of life, broad shoulders, sparkling brown eyes. His Mason. Emerson kissed Mason again and shook his head, not fully believing that whole episode had been a dream. “I can’t stop crying,” he admitted as he glanced down at a spot on Mason’s shirt darkened by Emerson’s tears. Thinking about Mason’s question, Emerson wondered if he should even tell Mason about his nightmare. Would he look at him or think of him the same? Emerson couldn’t risk that. He had to just…be vague. Wiping a hand across his cheeks once more, Emerson took a shuddering deep breath. He finally calmed down only to crumble again at the thought of Mason’s blank eyes and pink neck from his hands. “I…It was a nightmare. A…horribly vivid nightmare, Mason and and and you need to…you need to know how much I love you.” Leaning forward, Emerson reiterated his statement by kissing his boyfriend. “I love you so much. I’d never hurt you. Ever. I….God, never. I love you.” Nuzzling his cheek, Emerson enveloped Mason into his arms once more and dragged him to lay beside him. His hand rested on his hip and Emerson took in the sight of Mason. Alive Mason.
Mason literally had no idea what to do. He kept up on his current path, one hand tangled in Emerson’s hair, holding him close. There wasn’t much else he could do but keep murmuring the same words over and over. “I love you. I love you so much it hurts. You just had a bad dream, that’s all. It was just a nightmare, and it’s over now. I love you. You’re safe. I’ll keep you safe.” He’d do anything to protect Emerson, Mason realized. No matter what it took. He wanted to keep his boyfriend safe and happy. And right now, Emerson was neither of those things. Well, they were relatively safe in their apartment. But Emerson didn’t feel safe, that was the thing. And he definitely wasn’t happy, judging from the sobbing. It was all too much. Mason’s heart ached to see Emerson like this. He didn’t even know what Emerson had seen, what had caused the terror. But he didn’t want to know. Making Emerson relive it would just be cruel, and Mason was anything but. He nuzzled into Emerson’s hair, letting his boyfriend cry. It was all he could do.
Emerson probably knew what he needed. Mason just had to go along with it. So he let Emerson touch him, wrapped his own arms around Emerson’s small frame. He wanted to hold him tighter, wanted him to feel as safe as he could. Mason kissed Emerson back, running his fingers through his curls. “Sometimes you just need to cry.” Mason knew that much. He cried a lot. Well, a lot compared to the average guy. But emotions weren’t a bad thing. Mason liked how he could feel things. But right now, all the feelings were almost too much. Emerson was breaking his heart, and Mason wanted nothing more than to fix him. ”I love you too, Emerson,” Mason repeated. “I love you too. So much, okay? It was just a bad dream.” He allowed Emerson to pull him around, snuggling up as close as he could. It was moments like these where he wished he could do more, get inside Emerson, make them into one person. Bodies were horrible things. They separated you from the people you loved. No matter how much you were touching, you could never really be together. “I know you wouldn’t. Because I love you, and you love me, and we love each other for a reason. Okay? I know you love me, because I love you just as much. Maybe more.” He smiled and leaned forward, pressing a kiss to Emerson’s forehead. Mason dragged one hand down Emerson’s arm, grabbing his hip and pulling him close until they were tangled together. Emerson was his lover, his best friend. Mason hated when he was hurting.
Emerson trailed his fingers across the skin of Mason’s neck. His skin had always been so soft. The kid didn’t even look at him now, though, and it really was taking a toll on Emerson. The whole reason he had started this was to get emotion out of him. Mason didn’t even give him that. No words. No expression. Nothing. All Emerson’s fault. To be honest, Emerson had no intentions of killing Mason when he decided they’d come out here. He just wanted Mason to see a pretty sunrise after months and months of hell. Only now, as his eyes settled on Mason again, he knew he couldn’t let the thing continue on this way. He was hardly human anymore. Might as well…bring him to his end while it was pretty around him, right? At least Emerson was that nice. He massaged Mason’s neck first, like he was going to be friendly with his actions. He let that go on for maybe a minute before quickly bringing a second hand up to his neck, tackling Mason to the ground and straddling him. Tears actually stung his eyes as he whispered, “I’m so sorry”. Fingers finding the right place, Emerson cracked Mason’s neck to the right and watched how his breathing nearly stopped immediately. The pulse disappeared from his neck and as Emerson slowly rose to his feet he broke the silence in the woods with a sob.
Covering his mouth with his hand, Emerson looked down at the lifeless body when all of a sudden tears ran down his cheeks. This was what feeling was. That feeling in your chest, heart. Emerson had done something unspeakable. Something so wrong. He’d taken a young man from his life and tortured him, broke him, then brought him out to the woods because he couldn’t live with what he’d done. Emerson finally felt. And immediately he didn’t want it. As soon as he looked up he ran straight for his piece of shit he called a house. Emerson barged in, nearly hyperventilating. “No, no, no!” he cried. He didn’t want to feel anymore. He didn’t want this guilt. He didn’t want it! Panicking sobs escaped him as he rummaged through his bag to find a measly shot gun of his. His cheeks burned from being contorted in an unusual shape, the tears being too much. Raising the gun, Emerson squeezed his eyes shut, dying for the crying to just stop. Of course it wouldn’t and Emerson shoved the head of the gun into his mouth. A thick moan of agony carried through the house. He was a coward. He was heartless. He was cold. He didn’t deserve to live. Without a second thought Emerson pulled the trigger, the loud pop ringing his ears for only a millisecond before everything went black and a heavy pressure overtook his body.
The heavy weight made Emerson jump. Gasping for air, Emerson frantically searched around the room and tried to grasp exactly where he was. Eyes finally settling on what actually caused the weight, Emerson gave a relieved cry and tugged his boyfriend down into his arms. Probably squeezing a bit too hard, Emerson nuzzled deep into his neck, feeling the warmth, and run a hand through his hair. “Mason, Mason, my Mason,” he desperately murmured. It had been a dream. It had all just been a dream. He hadn’t killed Mason. He hadn’t hurt him. Emerson laughed as if it were funny and tears began to form-though he was pretty sure that he had been crying and making noise enough already from the whole thing. “You’re okay, oh my God, you’re okay.” Pulling away, Emerson cupped those soft cheeks with his hands and soaked in his deep brown eyes. Mason, the only person he loved this much, was all right. Ducking forward, he kissed Mason full on the lips only for it to last a moment. Smiling a bit too big, Emerson took in the sight of Mason as if he were the biggest blessing ever. “I love you so much,” he had to remind him of that. He had to.
Why did Emerson have to be such a heavy sleeper? Actually, this was a little uncharacteristic. Normally it took him ages to even get to sleep, and now he wasn’t waking up. That scared Mason a little, enough that his shaking grew a little more pronounced. “Come on, Emerson! Up!” SO maybe he got worried a little quickly. That was only normal, right? They were in love, they were together…and that meant that this worry was totally normal. In fact, he should probably dial back the worrying a little because the possibility of anything bad happening was ridiculous. Completely and utterly…merde. Mason sighed and got off of Emerson, kneeling next to him on the bed. Okay, so he was worried. He was scared that Emerson was sick, or…broken somehow, or some other horrible thing. It was scary. He got scared when things didn’t go as expected. Routine was good to have. Mason liked having routines. He liked structure. And when things didn’t go according to plan, he got anxious. Like now, when Emerson wasn’t waking up. When he was…was…
Okay that couldn’t be normal. Emerson was making these horrible wheezing noises and Mason’s heart froze. He felt completely lost, not knowing what to do. Did Emerson have asthma? Allergies? Was it something he did? What if he caused it?! Mason sat there helplessly, staring, unable to figure out how to react. “Emerson? Emerson!” But then the panic faded for a moment because Emerson was awake and grabbing at him like he was his only lifeline and Mason could breathe a quiet sigh of relief. It didn’t last long, however. What the hell was going on? Mason wrapped his arms around Emerson, like he was determined to protect him from the world. From whatever bad things were out there. Whatever had caused that nightmare. Mason knew he’d fight it if he could. He hated seeing Emerson like this. The weird mixture of fear and happiness was unnerving. “Hey, I’m here. I’m okay. And you’re okay too…okay? Nothing bad happening. I promise.” He kissed Emerson back, looking worried. Maybe it was just a bad dream? That seemed reasonable. Probably just a nightmare. More like a night terror, with the way Emerson was acting. Mason leaned forward and pressed his forehead to Emerson’s. “I love you too. It’s okay. No crying.” He hated seeing Emerson cry. Emerson was the strongest person he knew, and when something broke him…well, that was more than a little scary. Mason didn’t know what to think about this whole situation, honestly. But he wanted to make sure everything was fine. “Are you okay, Emerson? You…you scared me.”
Emerson gave a sigh of relief when Mason agreed to go out with him. There was no way he was just going to leave him in the house by himself. He couldn’t do that anymore. Not with Mason’s condition. Well…condition being slightly malnourished and incredibly weak. But Emerson was trying to change that. Of course change wouldn’t come within a day but there were many days ahead of them (hopefully) and Emerson wanted to fix it. He’d been thinking that a lot. Fix it. He sounded like a broken record. Maybe because he knew all the terrible things he did to Mason could never be “fixed”. He’d taken Mason and practically smashed him. And that thought alone was killing him. Beating him down. Would he have to kill himself to break away from this torment? Emerson did have a lot of guns. Surely there was one he could use. He’d probably be a coward for that and one look at Mason’s, now dull, brown eyes made him realize he couldn’t just leave him like this. Never.
So as he slipped on the jacket-Mason’s jacket-Emerson took note of how he no longer filled it out, he gave a heavy sigh and opened the door. Soon enough he could fit into the jacket nicely again. Emerson would just have to work at it. Emerson was rather scared of himself, though. Part of him worried he’d slip back into his habits. And while out with Mason he would attack and kill, throwing his meaningless body into the lake. A shiver ran down Emerson’s spine as he thought of how nicely the blood would pool out of his body. How Mason’s face would pale, his eyes go blank. And how his fingers would twitch from damaged nerves and his body floating to the shore of the other side of the lake, water lapping. Emerson gulped as he stepped through the door and kept the bile from causing him to heave. Had he fantasized killing Mason already? He was just now trying to stray away from that! His eyes caught Mason and Emerson reached out to touch his cheek, turning slightly pink from the cool air. No. He couldn’t kill him.
“I-I have a perfect spot for us to go see the sunrise.” Not to murder you, he thought. Nodding his head, Emerson casually slipped his hand into Mason’s and intertwined their fingers. “It’s a very nice spot. The grass…soft. Soft as grass can be. It’s the thin blades, you know? That kind. That’s always the soft kind.” Emerson scratched the back of his hand as he tugged Mason towards the spot he was talking about. It wasn’t far at all, you could see the house from where they stood, and Emerson plopped down. Looking up at Mason in hopes he’d sit down. “Come on, you’re going to miss it. Sit down and relax.” Emerson didn’t have anything on him to kill Mason with, right? Knife? No. Gun? No. He had his hands, though. He could choke him. Maybe that would be easier than trying to fix him. Mason could die and forget anything happened. He would go to heaven. Good guys like him always did. A hand sneaked it’s way up each vertebrae of Mason’s spine and he tried to casually play with the hair at the nape of his neck. He was so close. A glance over and Emerson saw how the rising sun played with the shadows on Mason’s face. So beautiful, he thought, he’s so beautifully broken.
As Emerson lead him outside, Mason glanced around. It was mostly out of a strange curiosity than anything else. He didn’t think he could escape. Scratch that. He knew he wouldn’t make it thirty seconds before he collapsed, or Emerson caught up to him. And that would be worse than listening to Emerson. Besides, he didn’t have the strength to break away anymore. He couldn’t muster up even the slightest hint of rebellion. Emerson had beaten it out of him, had tormented him until he’d simply given up. And now, he was nothing. Less than nothing. Completely worthless. The feel of Emerson’s hand no longer repulsed him. Mason let himself be led across the grass, not saying anything. He shivered when Emerson stopped walking, mostly from the cold. Partly from a sense of…lingering apprehension. What was Emerson going to do to him? As it were, they merely sat. Mason sat down obediently, curling his legs up to his chest. Everything hurt. It was just a default feeling now, so at first he didn’t recognize it. But the pain was still there. Constantly, just hammering at his consciousness. Mason curled up a little tighter, feeling Emerson’s hand on his neck. Part of him just wanted everything to be over. Permanently.
Mason stifled a yawn as he woke up, stretching his legs out. He smiled as he looked over at Emerson. His boyfriend was so cute when he was asleep. His curly hair was just messy enough to be adorable, and his cheeks were flushed slightly from the warmth of the bed. Mason leaned over and pressed a quick kiss to his cheek, pulling the blanket up more. Emerson was so skinny-how was he not freezing cold all the time? The thought made him smile fondly as he got up and got dressed. After brushing his teeth and getting cleaned up, Mason poked his head back into the bedroom. Still nothing. Maybe Emerson would want breakfast when he got up? It wasn’t like him to sleep this late. Normally Emerson was up all hours of the night. Mason sighed and headed to the kitchen. He started on breakfast: eggs, bacon, and toast. Perfect for breakfast.
Cooking was always fun. Mason loved how Emerson’s face lit up as well. Gosh, he was so in love. And it was wonderful. As he cooked, Mason started singing to himself, half mumbling the words. He didn’t want to wake Emerson up and spoil the surprise. Then again, it was always nice to wake up to the smell of somebody cooking for you. Mason smiled as he finished up the food. He stacked the toast up on a plate, leaving the eggs and bacon on the stove to keep warm. With a grin, he bounded back to the bedroom and looked in again. Still asleep? Must have been a rough night. Maybe he was getting sick. Regardless, he was about to be woken up. Mason jumped on the bed, sitting on Emerson’s hips. “Good morning, Sleeping Beauty,” he sang, shaking Emerson slightly. “Your breakfast is getting cold.”
Emerson finished off his food rather quickly, contradicting Mason’s slow as snails shovel. The more they sat there, Emerson talking to basically silence, he couldn’t help but feel this overwhelming heaviness in his chest. What the hell was that? He wasn’t used to the feeling at all. All he knew was that Mason wasn’t the Mason he had followed home from the library that night and he could only hope a little sunshine would improve his diminishing personality. He hardly said anything, now. What happened to the charismatic boy who sobbed when he found out his brother had been killed (even though it had been a lie)? Mason was no longer the same. Emerson was going to make sure that something livened him up. It was starting to get annoying; talking out loud and not getting any feedback. It was driving Emerson crazy. Crazier than he already was, anyway. So when Mason was finished with his food, Emerson took the dirty dishes off the table and cleaned them quickly, whipping around and making eye contact with Mason.
He sighed before slightly praying Mason would say something more than “We can do whatever you want”. Emerson licked his lips then nodded his head. “Yes. I want to go outside. But I want you to want to, too. I’m going to act as if we’re going outside and if you don’t want to…tell me. Or make some gesture or something. But I think it’d be good if we went outside.” He didn’t think Mason would budge, though, so Emerson tried making outside sound appealing. I mean, that’s what any normal person would do to persuade someone, right? “There’s a lake? It’s very beautiful. And sun hasn’t even come up yet. So we can see the sunrise. It’s not even that chilly out. It feels wonderful. You’ll really like, Mason.” The kid, actually, was always seen by Emerson outside reading a book. Maybe instead of driving to the store they could walk. That’d be more fun. Fun for Mason. Emerson patted his pocket to see if his wallet was in there before straightening up pushing off the counter. “I’ll bring a jacket in case you need one.” Mason was, after all, skinnier than he had been when Emerson brought him home. Sadly those delicious broad shoulders had weakened, and any sort of muscle tone had melted off. Hmm…maybe he would get chilly then.
With that conclusion, Emerson quickly grabbed a jacket off the door hand and ran a hand through Mason’s hair. “Come on, Mason, do you want to go outside or not?” Emerson held up the coat for Mason to slip his arms into if he so chose and waited for his decision while he stood at the door. He looked so..drained. A pang tormented Emerson’s heart as his eyes glanced up at down Mason’s body sitting in the chair, and he immediately bit his lip. “I…I’d like it if you came. We’re going to go to the grocery store, too, and I want to see what you’d like to eat for the rest of the week.” He couldn’t stand, now, knowing he was starving Mason. Had he really been that cruel? And what was bringing on these changes? It was like Emerson woke up and just…changed mindsets. Whatever it was he was thankful. Because…Mason could’ve died under his eye. Emerson could’ve woken up to Mason dead, hunger or violence being his last demise. A shudder ran through Emerson before he straightened up and he gave an awful attempt at smiling. One side was higher than the other and not all of his teeth showed and…his eyes sparkled with slight confusion. This was a smile? Why’d it feel so weird? Figuring it would scare Mason more than anything, Emerson let it fall and stuck with his relaxed expression. If they didn’t get out there soon they’d miss the sunrise. Emerson thought Mason needed something nice in his life for a change.
Didn’t Emerson understand? Mason would never want anything. Emerson had made sure of that, had completely broken him down. Mason didn’t have anything to want, didn’t have any feelings about…well, anything. Emerson did everything for him, so why shouldn’t he just control Mason’s feelings too? He did enough of that. Manipulated him, lied to him, raped him. It was all to make Mason feel. And now he couldn’t do even that. As he tried to think of an appropriate response, he wondered why Emerson even bothered. It was guaranteed that he’d do whatever Emerson asked him to. Go outside? Sure, why not. Take off your clothes? Alright, they weren’t needed anyway. Kill yourself? Oh, with what? It was just a matter of Emerson asking him to do something. “Okay,” he said finally. Emerson wanted him to want a trip outside, so that’s what he wanted. If Emerson wanted him to object, Mason would object. But he seemed to want the outside trip, so that’s what Mason wanted as well. He wouldn’t argue. There was no point. The only thing to so was listen to Emerson.
It wasn’t even surprising anymore, how little he felt when Emerson touched him. No hatred, no fear, no love. Mason figured he was probably grateful that Emerson wasn’t hurting him. But he didn’t feel anything anymore. There was nothing in his mind to suggest whether or not he enjoyed the touch. “Whatever you want,” he repeated slowly. Why did Emerson bother asking him? Mason might have had an opinion…once. But now, he truly did not care. He’d do whatever Emerson wanted to, no questions asked, no matter how degrading. He’d done enough already to prove that sentiment. Mason simply didn’t care what happened to him anymore. Emerson could do what he wanted. It didn’t matter, and it probably never would again. He was nothing more than a blank canvas, waiting for some kind of picture to make sense of things. But blank wasn’t quite the right word, if he were to continue with the metaphor. More like the canvas had been painted over with white. You couldn’t get back to the picture underneath, and whatever you tried to pain over would never be the same, no matter how hard to tried.
I’d like it if you came. That meant Emerson wanted him there. And Mason never objected when Emerson wanted something. Not anymore. He didn’t stop to think about how he’d never been outside the apartment in ages. Months? A year? Mason didn’t know how long he’d spent with Emerson. It was enough to change him, mold him into the perfect example of a submissive. He didn’t question what he was told, didn’t have any kind of opinion of his own, didn’t do anything without being ordered to. It was almost poetry, in a way. Mason just didn’t know how pathetic he looked. He barely had thoughts of his own anymore. Why bother thinking? Emerson didn’t care. Emerson wouldn’t listen. So Mason stopped thinking for himself. He wandered around in a daze, always listening, always waiting for Emerson to give him the next order. And Emerson had said he wanted Mason to go to the store. So Mason stood, with some effort, and shuffled over to Emerson. He dutifully slipped on the jacket, noticing how big it was on him. With a quick glance at Emerson, before returning to staring at the floor in front of him, Mason wondered what would come next. Was this all some kind of joke? That might explain the way Emerson was trying to smile. It didn’t look like what Mason remembered as a smile. Emerson was probably laughing at him. Mason was prepared for that. He knew how pathetic he was. At least he made Emerson happy.