Author Topic: Here We Are in the Present  (Read 276 times)

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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2019, 08:04:11 PM »
The vulnerable expression became calculating and Harm felt the effect of Luke staring at him. Like he was trying to figure him out. He appeared to make a decision and Harm was excited when Luke started speaking, almost breathless at the prospect of getting his desire for information fulfilled.

Again, he was left trying to imagine how confusing it must be for Luke to know so few details about himself. He tried to envision what finding consciousness in a strange facility would be like, to wake up and remember nothing, but see an arm like that on his body. It would've been utterly disorienting. Perhaps he'd asked the question about Harm not being scared of the arm because he'd been terrified of it when he woke up and it was suddenly there on his body, a new and unwanted alien part of him.

Being told how fast Luke was came as no surprise - it explained that rapid appearance in front of him - but it was more information that had Harm's brain turning over. He was distracted when Luke got up, anticipating he was about to write something, when-- "Ohmygod!" Harm exclaimed, most of his words muffled by his hands flying up to cover his mouth in shock as Luke stabbed himself in the fucking hand! He froze, eyes like plates above his fingers, watching in horror as Luke calmly walked over to him to give him an up-close view of it mending.

As the healing progressed, his level of alarm decreased, replaced by reluctant fascination. His left hand fell away from his mouth and his right twisted so that his fingers - bar the index, which rested along his lips - were curled beneath his chin, his thumb resting negligently against his nose. He leant forward, watching avidly. It was insanity; pure, unsullied insanity. No wonder Luke had been compelled to yell that this was reality, not a movie, at him. He was sitting right in front of it and he could hardly believe he'd watched a wound that severe close up in minutes.

Luke's hand clenched and then relaxed and Harm could feel Luke's gaze on him, silently beckoning him to look up... but he just couldn't. He was too conflicted and, frankly, upset. The trauma of watching Luke inflict that sort of wound on himself was most prevalent, closely followed by being disturbed that he'd felt it necessary. There was also a small amount of amazement at what his... modified(?) body was capable of. These three rocked around inside him, unable to find ballast. "Are your pain receptors affected, too?" he asked, his voice tight and marginally muffled by his hand. "Didn't that hurt?" He sat back slightly, unable to raise his gaze above Luke's chest.

How could he have done that? What sort of damage had been visited upon Luke that he thought that it was a good idea to make his point with such ferocity? The more Harm thought about it, the more emotional on Luke's behalf he became. Tears welled and he cleared his throat, attempting to swallow the tightness in his throat. He didn't want to lose his shit in front of Luke - it would only prove that he wasn't fit to hear any of this, even though his reaction was a response to the unexpected violence of watching his friend gouge a hole in himself, rather than to the fact that he was something extraordinary. That would never do.

In a determined act of preservation, Harm lifted his own hand away from his face and ran it through his hair, primping it in an effort to calm himself. He also inhaled quietly and squared his shoulders. After a pause, the tide of shock rolled back and a familiar calm enveloped him; the armour of emotional distance he wore at work. He needed to treat Luke like a patient, removing the vulnerability inflicted by a personal relationship. It was the only way to get through this. He looked up and into Luke's eyes, impartial curiosity in his gaze.

Offline suneater

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2019, 07:49:05 AM »
It seemed like his demonstration had largely had the desired effect. He winced slightly when he realized how deeply Harm had been affected by his self-inflicted injury, but it was a necessary step. Luke was a little surprised how effective it had been. Apparently Harm was only inured to the effects of violence, not violence itself.

"No, it hurt like Hell. I've just experienced a lot worse than Hell." A faint shrug. After you'd dug a bullet out of your own thigh with your bare fingers to keep your freakish regeneration from sealing it in flesh and muscle, pain became fairly relative. He opted to spare Harm the gory details, considering that he seemed only barely able to keep it together as it was.

He summoned a thin smile when Harm met his gaze. "I just... there's a lot of danger. I know you've dealt with plenty, but this?" He held up his freshly healed hand. "It's just the tip of the iceberg." His brow knit while he considered his words. "I would rather you be safe, but it's your choice. Your life. I think it's important that you understand the stakes though."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2019, 08:57:13 AM »
"Of course. Thank you," he agreed mildly, the veneer of professionalism serving to to make his tone almost dismissive. Thank you for making me feel helpless and like an absolute idiot, I really did need to get that sensation engraved into my psyche. What a novel experience around you. Not. Oh, but thanks for the fucking twist.

Harm lowered his gaze to his throbbing toe, curling his lip at it, ashamed to have even professed pain. He was having second thoughts about everything now, fighting the urge to just grab his stuff and run (hobble) because Luke's relentless hammering of his point was wearing him beyond acceptable limits. Yet he forced himself to sit. To stay. He had questions. He could ask those, then leave calmly and leave Luke to his Hell while he continued on with his life with his eyes opened. That was the goal. That was the goal.

He just had to hope Luke didn't decide to pop an eyeball out or something equally as gross in the meantime, to demonstrate... fuck knew what was left to demonstrate but some sort of insane horror that Harm was not prepared for. Anytime the muscular blond got off that fucking soapbox would also be welcome.

"So they turned you into some sort of super soldier - this unknown facility? Is the arm real or manufactured, do you think?" he asked coolly, lifting his gaze to the glove at the end of the appendage in question.

Offline suneater

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2019, 09:48:09 AM »
He nodded slowly in response to the first question and then shrugged at the other. He lifted his gloved hand and splayed his fingers, then closed them again. "I have no idea. I think real, I guess. I think it came from a monster, but as far as I can tell, it doesn't match anything anyone has ever heard of." He let his arm drop, resting his hand on his thigh. "I'm not sure, but I think that's what they do. Hunt monsters. Study them. Use them to augment their operatives." He reached up with his left hand and casually combed his fingers through his hair as if he hadn't just punched a hole in it a moment before. "I don't have many memories from then, but some of them are, well, me learning about monsters. Like, being briefed on them. Studying up."

Without warning, he dropped back, lying across the mattress the wrong way with his feet still planted on the floor. He cradled his head in his hands, cocking his elbows out to either side. He looked up at Harm, at his side and back, really, and sighed.

"I keep expecting you to run, but I think..." He paused, and a slender smile touched his lips. "I guess I hoped you wouldn't. That you'd be okay with what I am." Hesitation vibrated in his next words. "You are, right?" He shifted onto his side to look up at Harm, still propping himself up with his gloved hand while his elbow pressed into the mattress. He looked almost nervous; as if he'd just asked Harm on a date and was ready for rejection. There was a boyishness to the vulnerability he was exhibiting that Harm might recognize.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2019, 08:45:25 PM »
Harm continued watching Luke's hand as he lifted it and spoke about it. It made him wonder... had some poor monster been de-armed for the sake of this sick program and left to continue its life with one less limb or had they ended its life to further their science? Had Luke's arm also been viable when they'd amputated it? He wouldn't know, so it wasn't worth asking but Harm supposed a group interested in creating super humans wouldn't feel leaving two able-bodied beings alive and intact was important when one enhanced machine could be created. Twice the suffering was irrelevant in the face of breakthroughs, damn the consequences.

When Luke flopped back on the bed, Harm turned to face him as best he could, lifting the leg attached to his sore foot gingerly up onto the mattress and wedging himself back against the pillows and headboard. His other foot stayed on the floor. He was compelled to look at his friend's face as he toyed with his foot, absently prodding the base of his toe to determine if it was broken or not (it wasn't, because it was already settling down, it was just tender and heavily bruised). He gave a wan smile in return, finding the words and Luke's expression alluring; it roused his nostalgic self but he was still too shaken by what Luke had done to thaw immediately.

"Well," he said and cleared his throat because the emotion of recalling that pen stab had thickened his voice, "as long as you don't decide to, like, cut anything off to prove to me how bizarre it is that you can grow bits back, I should be fine." His attempt at humour wasn't convincing because he only managed another ghostly smile that was gone almost as quickly as it had come, but he tried. "I'm okay with you," he assured, lifting a hand towards Luke that gestured at his arm and body. It might have landed, in an effort to comfort, but Harm had moved back too far to reach Luke, so it fell onto the bedspread beside him instead.

"I think... no, I know... there's a big difference between being a monster and being monstrous. In my estimation, you may be the former but you've never been the latter. And I'm trusting in that. Even though you're determined to make me feel like I'm a complete idiot and about two centimetres big, I'm trusting in you," he whispered, feeling just as vulnerable as Luke looked. "You may have a weird arm and a borderline-insane flair for the dramatic now but you're not so far removed from the man I once knew. He's still here. You're not irredeemable." His smile was gaining momentum; this time it held long enough to be visible and his tongue made a brief, cheeky appearance before retreating.

Offline suneater

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2019, 10:09:25 PM »
Luke frowned, and his mouth fell open to retort when Harm characterized his intent as disparaging. The retort never came, though. He let Harm finish, and rolled his eyes mostly-playfully in response to stuck-out tongue. His faint amusement dissolved into uncertainty as he looked across the bed at Harm.

"That's the thing though." Despite the stillness of the room and their proximity, Harm still might have had to strain to hear him. He gained a little volume as he continued but only barely managed to surpass a whisper. "It's not just the arm. It's... I can't explain it except to say that there is monster in me. I feel it sometimes, when I'm mad, or scared or, uh, horny." His cheeks went pink, but he moved swiftly on. "It doesn't feel like me. It feels like something else. I worried that maybe it was just me, but if you're saying I was never like that..." He trailed off, shrugging, helpless to reach any other conclusion.

He forced himself to meet Harm's gaze. "I wasn't trying to make you feel small, or stupid." He smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. "I've really made a mess of this. I don't even know what I'm doing. Fucking it up, I guess?" He shook his head and flopped onto his back again, slinging his arms across his chest this time. He spared a glance toward Harm before staring up at the ceiling.

"Just please be careful," he imparted softly.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2019, 10:29:16 PM »
Harm felt like he was being dismissed. Part of him was glad because it was all a bit too real and scary. Mostly, he was disappointed but he would respect Luke's wishes, if that was what he wanted.

Still, there was that softly-spoken part that had come before the dismissally bit; that made him linger because it felt like Luke was the one that needed answers, even more than him, and he wanted to help - or at least leave here on a higher note than was currently between them.

"I will be as careful as possible. You definitely have made that point," he assured Luke but his voice was also quiet when he asked his next question. "What scares you?"

Offline suneater

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2019, 10:51:45 PM »
Luke drummed his fingers on his sides. A hollow sort of laugh escaped his mouth before he turned his head to the side and looked up at Harm.

"It's a pretty long list. I only got the room for one night, so I'm not sure we'll have time for it all." The forced humor dwindled away. He swallowed and pieced together his thoughts.

"More than anything I'm afraid of losing control. I've come close a few times now- almost let the monster take over." A somewhat pained expression flashed across his features, but he shook it off. "Then there's the everyday, garden variety fears. I'm running around the city looking for supernatural trouble in the employ of a vampire. I'm fast and strong and sturdy but they aren't exactly armed with ballpoint pens." His left hand crept up his right arm and began to scratch at his shoulder again. It wasn't nearly as pronounced as before, but he barely seemed aware it was happening.

"I'm also scared they'll find me. The ones who did this." He shrugged his shoulder and then pulled his hand away from it. "That they'll... take me back. Erase my brain for good this time."

He let his arms splay out to either side of him, watching Harm carefully. "That's the annotated list. What about you? Clearly vampires and human experiments don't do it." He managed a hint of wryness, but it was short-lived.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2019, 11:10:15 PM »
Harm was quietly impressed by Luke's frankness. He admired anyone that could admit their weaknesses and to hear it coming from someone so apparently invincible was humbling... and arousing, in a weird way. Honesty was sexy and he hadn't realised just how little of it he had in his everyday life until this moment, when this amazing 'monster' lay there just calmly announcing his fears without any hesitation whatsoever. He was quite lost for words for a few moments, just blinking and gazing admiringly at Luke.

Then he realised he'd been asked about himself. Another rarity.

He smiled, hoping the silence hadn't been too noticeable. He shrugged, struggling to say something that didn't sound lame... but the truth was all he had. "More mundane stuff - obviously. That I'll lose more people than I can save. That I won't ever find anyone I connect with. That I won't have kids with them," he blushed, knowing it was a pretty heavy subject to put out there but he was emboldened by Luke's admissions. "That the world will be too scary for me to have the guts to pursue that dream. Shout out for keeping it real," he joked, leaning forward to bump Luke on the shoulder with his fist. He thought of the scratching done to it and wondered...

"Does this arm actually itch or is it psychosomatic? What's the join look like?" he hinted, wishing to know more about the strange arm.

Offline suneater

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2019, 12:42:22 AM »
Luke's smile made a half-hearted return when Harm's cheeks colored. The idea of kids was completely beyond him. Aside from occasionally spotting one in the wild, they weren't much a part of his existence, never mind something he thought about. Stacking his fears against Harm's more natural ones was an interesting exercise. He had to wonder if he'd ever achieve enough normalcy for those sorts of worries to even rate.

He didn't shy away when Harm came in. He was expecting something more prying and meddlesome than a bump to occur, but he didn't resist when it did. Cocking an eyebrow, he shrugged. "It feels real to me. But maybe? How would I know if it were psychosomatic? It never looks irritated or anything. I'll give them that much- they did a hell of a job."

He sat up, scootching himself across the mattress to sit in an improvised lotus position facing Harm. He lifted his hands and began deftly undoing buttons. He stopped when he'd made it down to the bottom of his rib cage - just enough for him to shrug his shoulder and bicep out of the shirt for Harm to see.

Whatever process had been used to transplant the arm was indeed flawless. Cream-colored flesh simply gave way to gray. There was no scar, no seam, and not even a hint of irritation- granted, if his body could heal a dime sized hole through his hand, it could likely handle some neurotic scratching as well. The surgery (for lack of a more precise accounting) had left the architecture of his human skeleton intact to the shoulder blade. The place where the strange flesh met was a precise, even line, controlled and smooth rather than uneven or jagged.

Luke left himself exposed so that Harm could have a look. He had a hard time meeting his eyes though, and the effect could almost be read as bashfulness. Harm's inspection would reveal that the monstrous arm was hairless and uniform in color throughout. Luke had managed to craft it into a parody of normal human musculature, enough so that anyone would be fooled while it was covered, but revealed it was an obvious forgery. The planes of the muscle were almost cartoonish; they had the mass, the shape, but not the detail.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #25 on: June 15, 2019, 02:07:10 AM »
Harm watched with interest as Luke sat up and started undoing buttons, his heart rate picking up as he watched more and more muscular flesh be revealed. Then it stopped and he resisted the urge to huff. It was at this point that he realised he was feeling better about Luke's self-harm demonstration. The revelation of the shoulder joint was another successful distraction and Harm instinctively rolled forward onto his knees to get a closer look.

Before he made any sort of contact, he realised it was inappropriate to do so without permission (this time) and tucked his hands coyly behind his back. "May I?" he requested sweetly, earning an uncertain nod from Luke. His toe pained him as he shuffled closer on his knees but he pushed the discomfort aside in order to examine Luke up close. His fingers could detect no demarcation between Luke's natural shoulder and the arm; he ran them back and forth countless times, documenting the feel of the warm, human flesh changing to the strange, smooth grey arm. He'd expected it to be cooler, for some reason, but it felt just as warm.

Without thinking about it, Harm leant forward to press his lips to Luke's collarbone and then to the grey part of his shoulder - not exactly kissing him, more confirming with the more sensitive part of his body that there was, indeed, no temperature difference between Luke's two parts. He then moved around behind Luke, to take a look at the back of the joint, shamelessly shifting Luke's shirt out of the way so he could see farther along the arm. His fingers deftly probed the back of the join, finding it just as flawless all around.

"Fascinating," he murmured, his fingertips dancing back along the ridge of Luke's trapezius muscle, finding it tight with tension and digging into into the knots automatically - he was a more than passable masseur but he wasn't really concentrating on what he was doing. He was pondering how he could get Luke to lift his arm so he could see his armpit. "And I saw the arm change shape, right?" he asked, his hot breath wafting over Luke's naked shoulder and his ear as he leant forward to ask his question.

Offline suneater

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #26 on: June 15, 2019, 07:37:44 AM »
Luke had to concentrate not to flinch, but he managed to pull it off.

He wasn't ready for the contact, though. He nearly gasped when Harm's fingertips brushed his skin; he would have, if he hadn't already been so focused on suppressing his reaction. Instead, his breath caught in his chest.

He'd stopped thinking of his right arm as a part of himself. It was something else, something that didn't belong to him, something that had been inflicted on him- a weapon, a curse, a disfigurement.

There was no denying how his it was beneath Harm's touch. If he hadn't been so unmoored by it, he might have thought to commend whoever had grafted it onto him. The nerves- his nerves- were conducting reports on Harm's ministrations very ably to his brain, but his brain wasn't sure what to do with them. He was frozen until Harm broke the spell with one kiss, and then another. A shudder ran through him, but it was tactile overload more than anything else.

He had used the arm, of course. He kept it covered, though, and during his few dalliances... well, he hadn't really given his partner the chance to explore the way that Harm was. Now that he thought on it, he'd engineered the situations so that they couldn't possibly. This was the first time that anyone had touched it, and the first time it had offered him any pleasure at all.

He felt Harm tugging at his shirt, and then he felt the impromptu massage begin. He finally let the air trapped in his lungs out, or rather, it escaped in a rush. An involuntary groan vibrated out of him, and his eyes fell closed. For all the tension they carried, Harm would find Luke's muscles just as exceptional to the touch as they were to look at. Every bit of him was developed perfectly. He nodded dully. "Shape. Hardness. It can carry an edge, a point..." He trailed off. Those were all the words he had. Well, he had a few more.

"That feels good."


Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Here We Are in the Present
« Reply #27 on: June 15, 2019, 04:35:45 PM »
Harm stilled when Luke groaned, cocking an eyebrow at him even though he wasn't visible at the soldier's back. He was trying to decipher whether the noise was a good one or a bad one - momentarily distracted away from thoughts of the arm, even though it was being described - when he got confirmation that what he was doing felt good. He beamed, filled with a gush of pride that he could affect Luke so. He pulled a silly face in celebration of his victory before he cleared his throat and leant forward.

"If you take your shirt off, it'll feel better," he hinted. Luke's hands obediently returned to his buttons - there might have been a moment of hesitation, Harm wasn't certain - and Harm helped him out by tugging the tail of his shirt free of his chinos and taking the pink garment by the collar when it was finally free of Luke's body. The glove was left on the mattress in the process, he noticed, which pleased him. He got off the bed, scooping up his discarded jacket on the way and laying both of items of clothing on a nearby chair back, so they didn't get crushed.

As he padded back to the bed, he admired Luke's exceptional physique from behind, reminded of Emma Stone telling Ryan Gosling (as she gasped at his ridiculously-gorgeous body) in that movie, "It's like you're Photoshopped!" Luke definitely appeared too good to be true and yet, here Harm was, crawling back onto the bed behind him and getting to put his hands on him. It was a surreal moment, one Young Harm would've absolutely died to have happen, yet it had come about with no excessive machinations whatsoever. An organic moment was so much sweeter for the authenticity of it, he felt. Harm was grateful to the universe for helping him be patient enough to earn this moment.

Although there was still much to be said about the arm, many things he wanted to ask and poke at, Harm was content to massage silently for a while. Now that he had unfettered access, he was able to use his whole hands to prime Luke's muscles for his attentions by squeezing and pinching gently up his neck, along his shoulders, down his arms to his elbows (it was interesting, the different sensations of the two arms in each of his hands simultaneously) and down the undulating plains of his back - as far as the top of his pants, anyway. Once that was done, Harm repeated the same routine, this time with gentle fingertips and his thumbs, attempting to stimulate blood flow into the areas he'd soon be pushing around, with the intention of assisting healing in the muscles as he abused them.

Not that Luke was in any danger of needing it. His muscles were more likely to resist Harm's ministrations than suffer for them, but he had a way he liked to do this and it had worked for him with other people (mostly men, admittedly), so he could just hope it brought some benefit to Luke.

Finally ready to really dig in, Harm began massaging Luke in earnest. He quickly worked up a sweat, using his thumbs and the heels of his hands to manipulate the intense, knotted muscles of Luke's traps. He glanced around after ten minutes, wondering what the thermostat was set on - it was hard work and his brow was dripping sweat into his eyes, his cheeks flushed with exertion - but not seeing anything close by. Without missing a beat, he grabbed his own shirt and pulled it off, dropping it negligently on the floor behind him (after using it to wipe his face dry). That was better.

Harm's routine continued for close to an hour before he began to tire. He would start with intense digging, prodding and poking, pushing tension sideways and away from where it was knotted, then massage the whole body gently to disperse the energy. After that, he would chop with loose fingers (so that they smacked together to deliver a bit more pressure) or dance with fingertips before resuming prodding and squeezing in a new area. Luke's shoulders were attended to first, then his neck, followed by his back and then his arms. Pressing thumbs into triceps was usually very relieving; biceps were more difficult to manipulate and Luke's were no different. Harm massaged his left arm first, then attended to his right, finding it unusual to mould his hands to. It had been silent long enough - apart from Luke's breathing and Harm occasionally checking if pressure was too great or too minimal -  that he thought it was time to return to his ponderings about the appendage.

"So, this arm can take on any shape, huh?" he smirked as he ran his cupped hands along it all the way to Luke's fingertips before massaging his way back to the shoulder. He did his best not to press his bare front to Luke's back - he was misted with sweat and it would be unpleasant - but the angle meant he leant against him (as he had every other time he'd massaged his arms). "Beats me why you'd ever need anybody, in that case, when you have an arm that can transform into anything," he giggled. It might be childish but if he had an arm that could shift shape, there was no way he wasn't turning it into a different sex toy every night.