He shoots himself in the leg.
Then he places the phone call.
"I don't know which I like better," Jean muses, letting go of Z's hair with a final tug so his hand is free to open a drawer, feel around in it, "how much you want it, or how much you don't."
When he brings his hand back into Z's field of view, it has a knife in it.
Thud, thud, thud, goes his heart.
It’s really scary now. It’s gone a little too far past being a game not to be. And yet...
He tries to pull himself up.
“Please don’t do this—”
(“Please let me feel it.”)
“I’ll be good—I promise I’ll be good—”
(But this isn’t about whether he’ll be good, is it? That doesn’t have to matter.)
"Oh, you're already good. You're perfect. Why do you think I came for you?"
This time, it's the tip of the knife he trails down Z's stomach, between his legs, too delicate a touch to even hurt.
"I'll tell you what. If you can grow it back before I'm done with you, I won't stop when you do. Fair is fair."
He doesn’t move an inch. He’s frozen by the point of the knife.
He’s never grown that back before—he doesn’t know how—
He doesn’t look away from Jean’s face.
“F. Fair is...fair.”
(He won’t really do it. There’s no way.)
He lays the edge of the knife in position.
It doesn’t hurt. Not yet.
No. He will. He will absolutely do it.
“No — no no wait I don’t know how to fix it —”
He knows he can. Eventually. But what if it’s days, what if it’s weeks to figure out, what if he can’t do it right?
(To have that taken from him — by someone who he loves — that would be incredible.)
"..you have to learn somehow, don't you?"
Then it hurts.
He thought anything had ever hurt before. What a silly mistake.
He screams, raw and tortured and animal. He can’t possibly get enough sound out to keep up with the pain.
He had wondered if it would feel good. He wouldn’t know if it did.
He sets the knife aside, lowers his mouth to the wound.
<<i love you>>, he sends, followed by his habitual attempt to listen in return.
It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts, and Jean’s tongue sends new waves of agony through him every time it moves, not so blinding as the cut but sharp and twisting and inescapable.
It’s incredible — the pain, the humiliation – he’s crying but he bucks up into Jean’s mouth anyway, and he needs to be fucked because that’s the only thing that might help, now, he loves him, he knows he can give him that, or take that from him, or whatever it is — he wants Jean to come in him while he’s cut, make him cry and beg, he wants him to use him and take him apart because he loves him he loves him —
i love you i love you i love you
He crumples, before he screams, muscles shutting out before he can get any of them back online to draw air into his lungs.
He hits the island on the way down, and then the floor, and he's screaming screaming screaming but he can't hear his own voice over the pain, it hurts impossibly much in impossible places and he can't
he can't stop listening
he could stop listening but it's fucking addictive, hearing love you love you love you straight from Z's mind like that, unadulterated and heady and he cannot turn it off even if it comes with all that pain, so much pain, why
He is dimly aware that Z is in pain, Z needs him, Z wants him, and he is not giving Z what he wants and this is terrible but he can't remember how to fix it through the p a i n
What – he –
He doesn't understand what's happening, Jean was there and now he's not and he's screaming – his mind is too clouded from the pain for him to think right, he just knows that something is wrong, he was already scared but this isn't even how it's supposed to go so it must be real. He has to help him, he has to fix this somehow, but he's too disoriented to speak and panicking too much to move and something is wrong.
There's blood pooling on the counter.
he's scared it hurts
z's scared it hurts
he's scared z hurts
it spirals and spirals in his head and he can't, he can't stop, he can't anything but Z is scared and needs him and he is scared and needs Z and somehow between the two he manages to fling himself to his feet, in Z's direction, to throw himself at Z and cling desperately to him because he's hurting and frightened but he doesn't have to be alone.
It's incredible, how instantly it helps, how quickly the fear recedes when he feels Jean's arms around him and knows he hasn't been left.
He hurts – but Jean made him hurt, and he trusts him, and now he's holding him so it's going to be okay, even if he can't think past the next minute, even if he doesn't know how to fix himself. He'll know what he's supposed to do, or he can tell Z to know, or...
He shakes like a leaf, struggling to pull himself up.
It's possibly the best thing he's ever experienced, how he can feel Z's fear receding, the horror of it ebbing, and it's unimaginable now to let go of Z, after holding onto him has been so so so good.
He can't pull himself together enough to sit up, either, so he just holds Z pinned there, refusing to send anything of his own because he will not make Z feel this, the pain the fear the way he's drowning in it all.
Jean said, before, if he could fix himself in time...Maybe he can fix himself now. Maybe that's what he's supposed to do, maybe then he can think enough...
He focuses in on the bright point of pain, feels at where he was cut, where the thousands of nerves are all slit, where the cut connects to the flesh curving inside – his body knows how it wants to be, he took this form on purpose, he just has to –
He didn't realize how the first moments of healing would feel, how the familiar pins and needles would translate into this specific spot.
He is briefly overwhelmed very differently.
He tries to say no, no, please, I'll come you told me not to come I can't, but all he actually manages to send to Z is screams of mingled pleasure and pain, echoing the screaming he's doing aloud.
He can feel him screaming. He couldn't possibly stop, after that.
(That's what love sounds like, after all, that's what it sounds like when two people tear each other apart because otherwise they can't reach deep enough inside, and the way Jean is doing it now it echoes in his soul.)
He digs deeper, pulls and twists up new flesh, and the explosion of sensation is enough to have him screaming again, too, arching up on the counter, fingers digging into Jean's shoulders hard enough to bruise.
He can't help it, then; the best he can do is to complete the circle, sending wordless thought and sensation, pleasure and pain and adoration, clinging to Z and thrusting against his hips and thighs and stomach, choking on his own sobs and screams as he comes.
Everything blurs together.
Everything is feeling. Everything is them.
It's eternal. It lasts forever.
(They are eternal. They will last forever.)
When it finally ebbs away, the pain is gone.
Z loves him. That's all.
More than enough; it's incredible.
He's sprawled on the kitchen island like a broken thing, clinging to Z, both of them covered in blood and tears and other things, faintly aching in tandem.
But Z loves him, and that's enough to keep him delicately balanced on the point of tears, almost unable to bear how good it is, a breath away from falling over the brink and losing himself again.
He could always stop listening.
He's never going to.