(A/N: As a reminder, Interpersonal Chemistry deals with topics such as mental illness, abuse, and trauma. This particular update -while not graphic in depiction- features these warnings; in particular, there is a scene that details childhood abuse. Please proceed at your own discretion.)
He let Toby fuck him.
He thought there’d be the illusion of hesitation, a tasteful amount of modesty before they dove right in. But the moment that Toby’s apartment door closed, Mitch was pushed up against it with wrists pinned above his head. Toby’s free hand unbuttoned Mitch’s shirt and he nipped at each inch of skin as it became exposed. Within minutes, they were in the bedroom, and Toby was on him like a starved animal.
No questions were asked, no answers were given.
“Fast and rough”, Mitch requested when Toby got the lube out; he alluded to wanting to forget the past year, but in all honesty he just wanted to get this over with. In theory it seemed like a good idea, except for the part where he’d seldom been intimate with anyone in recent memory, not even with Calvin. Toby worked him open, but Mitch squirmed uncomfortably on his finger. With a dramatic sigh, he made the call that Mitch was too tight and they couldn’t go at that pace without getting hurt. Mitch shot back that he wasn’t a virgin.
“I could choke you?” Toby offered, and at first Mitch thought that he was joking.
He was not.
Mitch swallowed hard. He tried to recall if he ever told Toby about the time that he almost drowned. His mother left him home alone for a week so that she could go on a holiday with some friends. At that point, he was self-sufficient enough since she worked so much, and he would have been fine despite being…
Well, he didn’t remember how old he was when this happened. His uncle said that he was 11 years old, so he took his word on that. There wasn’t any reason to lie.
It would have been fine, probably. Except she didn’t leave him with enough medication. Forgot to get a refill.
He couldn’t say how many times he fainted that week because his heart nearly gave out. Eventually he lost consciousness in the shower, but before fading away, he recalled the water pooling all around him, being filled with dread as he slowly suffocated. Thankfully someone in the neighboring apartment heard him fall, and broke into the unit when no one answered their knocks at the door.
It took years to get over the nightmares. Although he was now fine with being near large bodies of water, he still refused to get in any if he couldn’t see his feet. And he wouldn’t go any further than waist-deep.
But the worst part was the memory loss he suffered from either the trauma or the oxygen deprivation. Most of his childhood memories evaded him. The fact that he recovered from a hypoxic injury was nothing short of a miracle.
Realistically, he probably told Toby all of this, but Mitch could never be absolutely certain since he couldn’t trust his brain. If he did say anything about it, it was years ago, and it wasn’t something to bring up before getting railed, not unless he wanted to kill the mood entirely.
So despite the fear and hesitancy and every nerve in his body in screaming at him not to, he agreed to it.
As Toby’s fingers tightened around his throat, he squeezed his eyes shut while trying to coax his body out of high alert mode. When that didn’t work, he slipped in and out of a fugue state; each time he came to, he silently hoped that if his body language was too stiff or if he radiated bad energy, that Toby would notice and stop.
But he agreed to it, he said that he’d be fine. He wasn’t some uptight virgin, he’d experimented with way weirder, harder shit in the past. He could handle getting roughed up, in fact, he preferred it that way. That’s what he claimed.
He could handle this, goddammit.
When it was over and he tried to assess his headspace, he touched his dick and determined that he came. That was the only thing that mattered, so he must have been alright. Perhaps by allowing this, he at last confronted a massive boundary.
They lay in the dark together, sweat drenched and breathing heavily while Toby clung to him. Mitch hoped that by getting laid, the static in his brain would finally settle down, but it stayed at the same pitch. Since Toby didn’t seem to be in any hurry to grab a washcloth, Mitch untangled himself and rolled away to go clean up in the bathroom. Taking a long look in the mirror, he was startled by all of the bruising and petechiae on his neck and chest. Some of the marks were hickies, which Toby always laid on heavy, but he couldn’t stop staring at the marks from strangulation. The white noise that built up turned sharp, like the feedback from a microphone. There was pressure against his temple, which he assumed was due to a budding headache, but he couldn’t stop thinking about the revolver that he imagined back at the museum: the hammer cocked back, and the trigger begging to be pulled. He shook his head to dispel the visual, aware that he couldn’t stay here much longer.
He considered taking a shower to wash away the grime, but just looking at the droplets of water gathered at the drain made his skin crawl.
“Everything alright?” Toby asked after Mitch returned to the room. Instead of getting back in the bed, he took a seat on the edge of the mattress. Toby’s fingertips grazed Mitch’s lower back, and he struggled to stay still and not wrench away.
“I think I’m gonna go,” Mitch responded, and his answer was met with a stretch of silence.
“Do you have to?” Toby eventually spoke up, his voice creaking. His entire disposition changed, as if he was starkly aware that his usual tactics were futile. For the very first time, Mitch felt like he had the upper hand, and he didn’t know what to do with that power. Had Toby not surrendered and shown his belly, he’d be out the door already. But now what?
“Yeah, I think so. ‘One day at a time’, remember?” Eyes adjusted to the dark, he turned his head enough so that he could see Toby’s face. The expression he got back was unreadable. “Can’t just go diving back in like the past if we want to give the future a chance.”
“Alright,” Toby surrendered, and Mitch smiled at him. He then stood, stretched his back until it popped, and turned on the nearby sconce lamp. Before he changed his mind and stayed, he gathered up his clothing that had been flung all over the floor. “Are you leaving right now?”
“Mhm,” Mitch nodded, zipping up his pants.
“Can’t help but feel a little used.” Ah yes, some of old Toby bled through at last. It would be concerning if he didn’t shoot his shot via charm or snark.
“My terms.” Mitch leaned down and pressed his lips to Toby’s forehead, then buttoned his shirt. Once he was fully dressed and started to make his exit -grabbing his forgotten knit hat on the way out- he found himself apprehended at the door by a still naked Toby. “Aren’t you worried about your neighbors seeing you?” he teased.
“Are you going to actually give this a try?” Toby ignored the joke, his brow furrowed with an intensity that Mitch wasn’t used to from him. “Like you’re going to message me tomorrow? We’re gonna see one another more often?”
“One day at a time,” Mitch repeated, and accepted a proper kiss. When they broke away, he whispered, “goodnight, Tobes”, and left.