I had called him beforehand; told him I'd be stopping by. If he'd lifted enough out of his drunken nirvana to be able to comprehend this, I didn't know. But I jumped into my car with empty hopes and turned the key in the ignition while nourishing my skepticism. I sighed, tapping my thumbs on the steering wheel as I tried to muster up enough courage to shift the car into drive; the entire time knowing that eventually, my decision to do so would lead me straight to him. I only wished I didn't love him.

Things get harder when you love someone. Their problems are yours and when they can't shake them, don't think for a second that you can. But, you know, teenagers make irrational decisions that carry over into adulthood. And Trey isn't a habit that's easy to break; I wish he was, believe me.

Even though he'd given me a key and I was welcome any time, I still took the courtesy to knock, but he didn't even answer so I tried the knob and opened the door. The place was a total mess. His clothes were all over the floor, accompanied by food wrappers and other garbage. Empty beer and vodka bottles lay in scattered piles around the room and the rank smell of marijuana hung in the thick, hot air. I choked and placed a hand over my mouth as I started to tread deeper into the filth to find Trey.

I found him on the kitchen floor, asleep. He wasn't wearing any clothes and I could see the bruises all over his torso and thighs; a joint, still lit, laid gently in his left hand. Kneeling next to him, I lightly nudged his shoulder until he woke up.

"Trey, you need to get up. And stop smoking," I spoke when I thought he'd opened his eyes, but he only moaned and rolled over in his sleep. "Fuck it."

I picked him up and slung him over my shoulder, headed for his bedroom where I hoped to find him some clean clothes.

"Mm, Kade, is that you?" Trey said in a sleepy voice as he went for the joint that used to be in his hand.

"Yeah, Trey," I really couldn't help that I treated him like a kid when he was drunk, it was just my nature of dealing with it. Plus, if I didn't, he'd get really cranky.

"Where we headed?"

"Your bedroom."

"Mmmmm, are you gonna fuck a drunk man? That's hot," he chuckled, drunkenly. I imagined the smile that would decorate his face. If he was sober it would've been sexy.

"No, shithead, you need clothes."

"Not if you're going to do me," he countered with a devilish tone.

"You stink, and you're drunk." When the alcohol talks, it screams. I sort of curse Trey for not being this debonair and witty when he's sober. It's shitty of me to admit this, but he's fuckable when sober and only actually lovable when he's intoxicated, perhaps because his intoxication becomes my intoxication; like I said, 'their problems are yours'.

I pushed his bedroom door open and was astonished to find that the room was spotless, just as clean as it had been about a month ago when I last visited him. I walked over to the bed, and lowered him down on to it so I might go in search of something for him to wear, only to be thwarted by his slender hands as they grabbed ahold of my lapel.

"Love me..." he whispered breathlessly into my ear. I felt his hot pants as they fanned the dainty bit of hair on the side of my face, noticing all the while how turned on he was.

I pulled his hands from my jacket and, against his will—and mine—strode off to rummage through his wardrobe. "Not right now," I said as threw a pair of trousers and a button up shirt onto a lounge chair. "I'm going to run a bath, think you can take care of yourself for three minutes?"

His eyes squinted at me in return and he rolled over on the bed, muttering to himself about what a 'party-pooper' I was. I'd be lying if I said he wasn't dramatic about everything whether or not he was under the influence of drugs.

Once I had the bath started and the tub filled, I returned to his bed to retrieve him. I wasn't shocked to find he had sneaked another joint from his side table and had already gotten halfway through it.

"Trey.. you're really fucking up your life. And mine. Can't you break this? I know you're strong enough," I pleaded, picking him up bridal style. He rolled his head up to look directly at my face, and took a drag on his joint.

"You talk as if it's easy. I'm going to be level-headed here, for a change. So, tell me, can't you break me? I know you're strong enough, I'm an easy habit."

"You think so?"

"You know I do."

"I know, that's why I'm not going to bother arguing with you. You'll never understand."

"And neither will you," he took another drag, as I lowered him into the warm bath water.

"You going to put that out? It would be a shame to lose it in your bath water."

"Yea, I'm finished anyway.. my hangover is just about gone." He extinguished the joint on his arm as he held it underwater, and then rested back against the smooth, cold porcelain of the tub. "I'm numb."

"Of course you are," I sighed as I reached for his bath sponge to load it with soap. "Lean forward, I'll wash your back first."

"I don't deserve you, I don't deserve this. You take care of me, and fuck too good."

I laughed, "Nah, I put up with you, there's a difference." I finished scrubbing his back and let him rest again as I lifted one of his arms and started on it.

"I'm not too difficult to put up with, I'm knocked out all the time. I don't make much of a fuss," his rich laugh filled the room and I drowned in it's smooth rumble.

"No, but you don't take care of yourself when you're knocked out, which is often. I'm the one who has to act as your brain while your artificial one is submerged in a poisonous mixture of mind-altering chemicals," I countered as I began to scrub his other arm, and then his chest.

"Mm, maybe because I'm actually smarter than you and the reason I do this is because you're the one who ends up bathing me and I don't have to use myself when I have you here to do it for me." I looked up at his beautiful, sexy smile and sparkling eyes as he grabbed my arm which held the sponge and pushed it down on to his groin. "Stop playing coy," he whispered.

"I would swear that you hadn't just smoked an entire joint, and you've been sober for years, with the way you're flirting. You're unusually..."

"Forward?" He took the sponge from my hand, forced my fingers closed around him, and inhaled sharply at the touch.

I smiled at him. "Something of the sort, yes." I squeezed harder, his hands jumped up from the water and grabbed the sides of the tub as his head fell back, his mouth open in ecstasy. "Or do you imagine your superior intelligence, and really, I just like to use when you're in this.. compromised.. state of mind?"

"Compromised? What are you... talking... about? I'm..." He panted each word, "Please, harder." His toes curled and his breathing became labored. He was right about one thing: I was always here for him. It wasn't like I loved to, or I felt need and want; I think it's something more than that. I feel obligated, and worse responsible for what he does to himself, and I feel like I'm the one who will pay if his life were to be ended. And perhaps I would, because my emotions wouldn't handle it, and neither would my conscience. Fuck what society thinks and would be lead to believe, brainless sheep they lust to be.

I've thought about couples therapy, but it's an odd concept for me to grasp, especially when the only reason counseling needs to happen is because of Trey, and the shit he pulls, what he does to me. I feel taken advantage of, and I feel piss-poor when I enter myself into mindless monologue for the sake of trying to reach some sordid semblance of peace and quiet.

With one last, sharp jerk he came and sighed in pleased satisfaction, a blissful excuse to tear me from my internal bickering.

"Before you sully yourself in your bathwater, I'm draining it," a measure of anger skirted the edges of my voice. I reached for the plug, pulled it from the drain and wrapped it loosely around the faucet, where its chain was linked. Having done so, I grabbed a nearby towel I had laid aside and held it open as Trey stepped from the tub and sought warmth from the cold air on his wet body. Enveloping him with the towel, I scooped him into my arms and continued on into the bedroom, where I sat him onto the bed and went to retrieve the change of clothes.

At the very moment I grabbed the clothes, I heard a soft sniffle from Trey's direction. My brows furrowed, I looked up to see his face twisted by a melancholic frown, sparkling tears dripping over his smooth, alabaster skin, and his glittering eyes pointed in my direction, peering into my own. I stopped, my arm poised in mid-air, halted in the motion of reaching for the worthless garments, and stared at him for what, I can only imagine, were mere seconds compared to the eternity I mistakenly surmised.

"Oh Kade, what have I done?" his whispers chilled me to my bones. He lifted his left arm to wipe the tears and snot from his face as he continued, "I'm a poisonous, wretched thing to call friend. I... I..." He looked down at his palms and cried harder, the anguished expression etched into his gentle face as an epitaph chiseled into gravestone. It pained me, and broke my heart to see him in such a state.

"What have you been thinking? It's tearing your mind apart and against you, love." I sat down next to him, put an arm around him, and pulled him close to my chest. As I rocked back and forth, he cried at a fever pitch.

"I've lived recklessly, without a care whether I would die tomorrow and not see your face a last time to tell you how I feel, or to live a single day, in sobriety, and in your arms. You should leave me," I instantly tensed and shook my head at his comment, but he went on insisting. "You should, I'm ruining you. I know what I do is wrong, but I can't help what my body needs and I don't mind intoxicated rapture. I'm only ever a real human when my system is pumped full of drugs; I don't function or think properly when sober!" I felt his tears soak through my shirt. "Why am I the only junkie who's ideal under influence?"

"Stop coming up with these ridiculous fantasies because they aren't true. You're perfectly fine and you're not a junkie, it's alcoholism. I love you, and your problems are mine; I refuse to leave you in the dark and on your own. You think me so callous? I'm a man of principles, I'm shocked you think of me as any less. You're not in this alone."

"Of course I'm not alone, I've dragged you into this! It's my own fault." His ravenous crying had subsided, and solitary tears silently glided down his face from time to time. The crystal clear blue of angelic eyes peered up at me once in awhile, as if he were judging my internal conflict, analyzing my reactions to see if my intentions were to jump and run.

"It might be, but it's not a battle you should, or need, to fight alone," his calm breathing allowed him to yawn, and I laid back on the bed as he nestled himself next to me like a small child. I pulled the covers over the both of us and smiled to myself when he, predictably, rested his head directly over my heart and placed his delicate left arm around my torso.

I kissed the top of his head, "Relax and try to get some rest. I'm here and you're not alone, love."

"I love you," he whispered.

"I love you," I answered.