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Heartless by Zero
[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Regular readers know me for my hurt/comfort stories. Be warned: This is not one of them. I consider this piece an experiment of sorts, an exercise of a different narrative tone. I just had to get this out of my system to move on with something else. That said, feedback (of any kind) is always appreciated!]
Lying down in bed next to him, with the sun’s soft, early light coming through the window, between the cracks of the curtain, Adam stared at Sebastian’s blond tresses spilling over the pillow, just inches away from him. Gingerly, he grasped the ends between his fingertips while he was still soundly asleep, turning them and twisting them, watching the sun rays glide across the strands as he did.
Then, he saw Sebastian’s back arch and his shoulder blades emerge as he stretched in response to his touch. He glanced behind and Adam caught sight of his half-asleep eyes and his warm smile. A ‘good morning’ read in his lips.
He reciprocated his sincere smile with a quiet one of his own.
Adam wasn’t in love with him. But he could keep up the façade.
With his presence acknowledged and welcomed by Sebastian’s body drifting closer to him, he sailed the sea of golden hair with his fingers freely this time, with the other’s consent.
He wanted to see it all on the floor.
Adam didn’t know whether to call it interest, obsession or fascination, but it had always been there.
He had a predatory nature that was well beyond his control, that he had surrendered to and had accepted as part of his very self after years of trying to hold it back, to chain to it, to kill it and bury it alive, just for it to return every time with new-found ferocity and violence and anger to him.
If he looked far behind, maybe it had started very early into his boyhood. He remembered an episode, with crystal clarity almost two decades later. His dad had taken him to the barber for a trim when inside came this man with a kid who couldn’t have been much older than him crying and thrashing, with a light-colored mass of hair on top of his head. He had wrestled the man (his father?, uncle? stepfather?) like a wild animal trying to escape his grip in vain and finally when he had been sat down in the chair, the barber had asked for instructions. The father (or was it stepfather?) ordered him to shave the boy’s head.
His cruelty had stayed with him as did the strange warmness inside him he was too young to understand when he had witnessed the execution of the man’s orders and had seen the kid’s hair cascade down to the floor. He had unconsciously touched his own hair and repeated himself that his dad would never do something like that to him.
(He remembered then that his own father had been disgusted and had stared daggers at the man who had done that to a boy who could have been him, as he placed his hand on his shoulder to guide him out the door).
It would take him years and growing up to process it all. And even now, he wasn’t sure he fully understood it.
Deep inside, he had guessed it was about power, about control, dominance and submission. (Or at least, that’s how it felt to him).
As he continued caressing Sebastian’s hair. He thought back to how it had all started, from what had been his first experience beyond his self-buzz cuts in the intimacy of his bathroom as soon as he moved out from his parents’ house. It had begun when he was barely more than a teenager, when he was reaching eighteen or nineteen.
It had become a cycle of sorts. One he had been through (trapped in at times) more times than he could remember.
Jared had been the very first. His age and but cool, leather jacket wearing, cigarette smoking, very chill kind of guy, with a confident smirk in every step he took as he strutted around. Adam was slightly taller than him. He had a mop of curly dark hair that had been his most unique feature, part of his identity and one night, under the spell of beer and disinhibited, he had allowed him to shave it off. Adam remembered he had been shaking, with a rush of adrenaline in his veins when he plugged in his hair clippers and carved a path of stubble in the mass of curls.
The next week, Jared had been caught dealing drugs and sentenced to serve in prison. Adam didn’t visit him and it had been only years later that he had met him again, with his hair still clipped short (they had probably shaved his head in prison) and a huge scar across the left side of his face he didn’t have the last time he saw him and still had a cocky smile in his lips, but then it seemed sad and empty.
He wasn’t sure if he had loved Jared or if he had just been infatuated with him, with his magnetism that seemed to drive him in.
But he knew he didn’t love Sebastian.
Two years younger than him but he was still a child, a boy he had to look after all the time. Dependent, approval and attention-starved, needy, immature, compliant and a terrible judge of character. And keeping up his pace, slowing down and lagging for him, was too much effort than what he was worth.
He just lusted after him. His attraction to him was no different from that of a fox towards a prey, towards something it knows it will kill eventually and feed off from.
But most of all, he coveted that golden mane of his; he had since the first moment he laid eyes on him.
He had been going out with him for almost six months. A long chase he had gotten tired of.
Adam knotted his knuckles inside his hair in a fist, feeling his scalp beneath the locks and tugged, finding no resistance or complain from the other side of the bed.
After others, before Sebastian, came Leon.
His inner fire, his razor-sharp intelligence, his non-stop ambition and determination. Taller than him, broad-shouldered with neck, arms and hands sculpted by the heavens themselves. And he had the most gorgeous chocolate hair, very soft waves down to his shoulder blades, silken to the touch, shimmering underneath the light, even beneath the moonlight and perfect in every sense.
It had taken him months to convince him to let him cut it above his shoulders and then another more for him to let him take his hair clippers to it. Summer was down upon them and he had agreed (resignedly, mistrustfully, hesitantly) to a number four. And Adam had (half-resignedly, half-heartedly, disappointedly) buzzed it to that and reduced it to an inch all over. After he was done, he told him he was going to make sure it was all even and changed guards and ran the number one right across his temple. Leon realized it when he saw the amount of hair falling over him and got up and punched him across the face.
The sheer force sent him to the floor.
He had yelled at him, a thousand spiteful insults as he touched the shorter path on his head and stormed off. The next week, Leon had buzzed the rest of his hair down to an eighth of an inch. And the rest of his features were brought to light, including those burning amber eyes he had. Leon had the evidence of his hands on his almost shaven head and Adam had the trace of his knuckles in a furious red wound on his eyebrow.
He never saw him again.
Then. Then he met Sebastian. Innocent and naïve, so naïve.
He wasn’t in love with Sebastian. He hadn’t been in love with any of them.
He had loved Leon, though.
He had been the only one who he had chemistry with. The only one he had fallen in love with.
(The only one who had hurt him, the one who had taken his heart with him).
He ran a hand through his own hair, pushing his short bangs away from his forehead, irritated by them.
Until not long ago, Adam had kept his own hair buzzed to a number two or one. Now, it was about three inches long (the longest it’s been in ages). It was Sebastian’s fault it was overgrown. He had pleaded him not to cut it again and would play with the fuzz on his head with his fingers and smile and imagine him with longer hair every time he did, whenever he ruffled it with his hand.
(Adam didn’t think much of his own rather unremarkable chestnut hair, he could hardly remember what it was like when he wore it longer, it seemed ages ago).
He had complied. Knowing it would make him reciprocate when the time was due.
A couple hours later, in the backyard, in a quietness that made them feel like the only ones left in the world, he stared at Sebastian again as he stood there, lying against the wall of the porch, just watching the birds and the sky above them in complete serenity.
The early morning sun still reflected marvelously on his long blond hair, like it was made of light, of the same substance the sun itself was made of.
(It was truly his best asset).
Adam walked towards him, approaching him with slow, calculated steps. Sebastian’s gaze remained away from him, he seemed to be deep in thought (a dormant, long dead part of him half-wondered what was on his mind), and the tranquil expression in his face had melancholic hues.
He leaned towards the twenty-year-old, with nimble fingers, he pushed away the locks that covered one of his ears and he lowered his lips to it. He was so close; he could perceive the fragrance of his cologne, his body heat even.
Then, he whispered into his ear with silken voice "I want to shave off all your hair".
He saw him turn back to him, laugh in response, and then a second later, he watched the color vanish from his face, his light blue eyes widen.
A minute later, he was looking for his hair clippers.
"Adam" he pronounced with name softly, almost inaudibly.
He didn’t want to do it. But he had agreed, just like Adam had always known he would. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t have second thoughts about it, though.
Not that it mattered. He had prepared himself in advance for them, to counter and shoot them down.
"Do you trust me?"
No response. Just a silent plead in his frightened eyes.
"Do you love me?" Adam pressed on, hair clippers in hand, with the cord around his fingers and his barber cape over his shoulder. He saw the other’s eyes dart to them, seeing them like he was holding a dangerous beast.
Then, he heard it.
He didn’t want to do it. But he wouldn’t oppose him, wouldn’t deny him. He wouldn’t because he was starved and desperate (so desperate) for emotional connection, affection and intimacy and he wouldn’t dare put in peril what he had artificially given to him.
Adam put his hands over the back of the chair, inviting him to take a step forward. Lying in wait. Sebastian raised his hand to the back of his head and nested his fingers on his nape, feeling the thick and healthy locks of hair between them and stood still for an instant.
With reluctance and fear, Sebastian slid into the chair he had propelled up for the occasion. Adam gave in to a smirk when he saw him, when he finally had him where he had envisioned him since the very first day, lying awake next to him.
He could tell that the twenty-years-old’s heartbeat was racing, looking into his transparent blue eyes, full of doubt and terror. Adam grabbed his cape from his shoulder where it had been resting, it flew in the air like a white bloom before falling over Sebastian’s figure and burying it almost whole. With great care, Adam lifted his hair and fastened the cape around Sebastian’s neck tightly, almost to the point of discomfort. He could see him biting his lip as he did, his jaw clenching in tension.
Beneath all that, the devotion in his eyes was blind, absolute, painful, even.
Gently, he combed and untangled his locks. He watched his hair follow and comply with the movement of the comb, dance with it. The waves soft and full of body. Sebastian remained very quiet, realizing then that it would be a long time before he would be able to run a comb through his hair again when Adam was done.
Adam put the comb away and looked at Sebastian sitting still. He looked vulnerable, defenseless, like he still had doubts (hopes) that he was not actually going to do it. Not too different from that kid he had witnessed getting all his hair cut off against his will when he was a young boy in that barbershop.
He stepped back and plugged his hair clippers in a socket in the wall. They were the ones he used to cut his own hair. They had remained in the depths of his cabinet for a couple months now. Every time he had looked at them, he had felt impatient to use them again.
He removed the guard and oiled them. He fired them up for a split second, checking the motion of the blades, and then he turned them off almost immediately. Adam looked back at the twenty-years-old motionless in the chair.
Sebastian had given himself up to him.
And now, he was going to pay the price for it.
He planted a kiss to the top of his head, felt that silken mane against his lips.
"You are so beautiful" Adam said to him in a murmur and he had said it so many times, to so many different men, that he wasn’t sure anymore if he meant it or not. He couldn’t tell any longer when he was lying or not.
With a flick of his thumb, the hair clippers came to life once more. Their sound was one of the most erotic in the world for him.
He took one last glance at that gorgeous shoulder-length mane. He ran his fingers through it slowly, caressed it lovingly, gently.
He saw Sebastian flinch when he did.
He admitted there was some sadism to it. To destroying something beautiful.
Tenderly, holding the clippers vibrating in his hand, he kissed him in the cheek. He felt his soft bangs brush his jaw when he distanced his face from his. He held the machine inches away from him now, on his hand that rested on the back of the chair.
Adam raked his fingers through his bangs with his opposite hand. He secured a handful of that golden hair and steadied Sebastian’s head. Securing the clippers tightly in his hand, he angled them towards his hairline, set a course for his forehead. Slowly, he raised the bare metallic teeth towards it and the other closed his eyes, in apprehension and denial as they approached.
He put them right at the beginning of his hairline. The clippers purred a low, merciless, hungry sound. Then, he drew them back in a first pass. His body was on fire now. Adam saw the first golden locks coming off, piling on top of the machine as he plowed through them, reduced them to stubble. The pressure of the locks he was holding on his hand diminished as they were shaved off completely.
Sebastian winced. His face contorted when he felt the cold blades going through his hair and his long locks falling on his shoulders.
Adam lifted the machine and held a handful of soft waves in his left hand with a rush of ecstasy, with a dark, unholy pleasure inside him. He glanced at the locks, still severed they gleamed under the sunlight. Then, he dropped them on the floor. In his hand, he secured another section of hair and continued.
As he made the second pass, a single tear rolled down Sebastian’s cheek, leaving a dark stain on the cape that at the moment only had a couple locks on it.
Adam glided the bare teeth across the top of Sebastian’s head. They made a sweet, mechanical and loud growl when they encountered that beautiful sea of golden waves. The scalp hidden from the sun was a deep shade of pale white. He petted it with his hand, rough, sand paper like where there was once silk. The stubble left with each pass was transparent, and he only knew it was only possible to tell it was there through touch.
He adjusted his grip on the clippers and moved to the side. He started to denude Sebastian’s left temple, tilting his head to the side. Resigned, he let him. Still shutting his eyes every time the machine touched his head. His breathing had become deep inhalations and exhalations, until it had leveled again.
The golden locks cascaded down to his shoulders and lap. Adam uncovered his ear and destroyed his soft sideburn. Then, he shaved the other side, repeating the motion and folding his ear, erasing every trace of hair around them. The clippers removed every single strand of gold. He was almost possessed as he did so, trembling with excitement and desire. He relished watching it fall lifeless, discarded.
Sebastian felt Adam’s hand pushing his head forward roughly. His hand felt warm on his crown. His fingertips touched his very scalp through the bristles. As he placed the machine on his neck, he glanced at the mounds of his hair on his lap. He felt tears stinging in his eyes once more. He dug his teeth in his lip to fight them back.
The noise of the hair clippers was deafening as they crept up his nape, all the way up to his crown. He saw his locks rain down as Adam flicked his wrist at the very end, as they shaved off all his hair. And he was powerless to stop it.
Adam looked at the last long locks left. All that remained of that gorgeous golden mane. He touched them lovingly, enjoyed the visual contrast against the stubble that surrounded them. He observed the shorn hair over Sebastian’s shoulders delighted.
Then, he steadied Sebastian’s head once more and forced his chin to his chest. He grabbed the remaining locks and lifted them, placing the clippers on the base of the twenty-year-old’s neck and then moving them up towards his crown slowly. He released that last handful of hair and let it fall on the floor. He saw Sebastian’s chest rise and fall when he did.
Adam smiled when he saw him, when he looked at the result. His pale shaved head down in submission, the severed locks of hair covering his shoulders, the white cape. He felt he was in a trance, euphoric at the sight of it all.
He tightened his grip on the clippers, still vibrating in his hand and held Sebastian’s head in position again as he ran them all over his scalp again. As he dug the teeth as hard as he could against his head forcefully. Areas of his pale scalp turned red as he did, and he loved the tinge behind his ears and nape, that furious shade underneath the stubble.
He pushed the teeth back and forth over his hairline, from his forehead to the crown. And finally, once he was satisfied, he turned off the hair clippers and glided his fingertips across the bristles and caressed his tender, shaved head.
"You look perfect" Adam kissed the top of his head, the contrast from the last time he touched his crown with his lips was unspeakable.
Sebastian didn’t say anything, he heard him produce a silent sigh and saw him close his eyes again.
He removed the cape from his neck in one forceful, violent motion and sent the remains of his hair flying to the floor.
Adam’s drive was beyond his control and self-restraint and Sebastian responded to him, to the command of his hand and the force of his mouth exploring the sensibility of the back of his now uncovered neck, bearing the mark of the edge of the cape around it.
The next morning, his freshly (still beautifully tender and reddened), shaved head rested on the pillow next him, with his back turned away from him, and Adam stared at the bristles, the barely-there stubble that crept up from his nape to his occipital bone, what he had done.
Sebastian was his. Everything was his.
And in his blue eyes, last night, Adam could see he entertained the idea that he was also his as well, in a mutual belonging.
(Such starvation in his eyes).
But Adam wasn’t his.
As he looked at Sebastian, Adam knew he wasn’t the first, nor would he be the last.