The room had not changed much at all. Still the same neutral color that would offend few patrons. The curtains were newer, as was the bedspread, but the design was still so similar to almost five years before. He pulled back the covers to the end of the bed. If he squinted, he could still make out Danny's lean frame lying on the bed, skin glowing with a sheen of sweat from their lovemaking, hair all mussed and that sated smile and satisfied eyes looking back up at him as he leaned over and planted a gentle kiss on lust swollen lips. The covers were rucked at their feet, the sheet below them damp with their release and perspiration.
Damn but it had been good. After so long dreaming about it, finally he had Danny in his arms again and in his body, thrusting with single-minded possessiveness, the sensations overwhelming as he spiraled to completion. Any lingering awkwardness dissipated with the union of mouth and hands, fingers tracing patterns of need and desire, reawakening half-forgotten memories submerged beneath the horrors of war.
Michael sank down onto the bed carefully, favoring his leg.
His attorney had used the trauma of the war as the focus for his defense, citing his bravery and his wounded leg, overplaying the relief at being reunited with a friend turning into something more physical, sexual; a momentary aberration on his part. Except Michael knew it was no aberration. Unlike Danny, he had never responded to the touch of a woman, never conceived of the idea of sharing himself with one, marrying one, having children with one. The very thought of touching a woman sexually was repulsive to him so he was not surprised when his defense failed to exonerate him completely. Still, the jury had come across as more sympathetic than most and his sentence had been light in comparison to the horror stories of lengthy incarceration whispered to him over the preceding weeks.
Eighteen months imprisonment.
His first night in prison had frightened him. He had felt eyes following him as he limped ungainly towards his cell with his provisions; blanket, soap, toothbrush, a spare prison uniform and little else. They had shaved his head, probably to ensure he carried no lice into the prison population, and had taken away his walking cane, considering it a weapon rather than a needed support. Wolf whistles had followed him to his cell, and taunts too. The very crime for which he was being punished openly sported as those hungry eyes devoured his body.
His cell mate had vocally resented his presence, demanding they put 'the faggot' elsewhere but that turned to his advantage as he slept safely every night in that cell. His cell mate had no designs on his body, no craving to burying himself balls-deep in Michael's ass, and his cell mate was aggressive enough to ensure no one else got the idea of trying to enter the cell for that reason either.
Shower and exercise time was a different matter entirely. Unable to run away or fight because of his leg, he became an easy target for the power hungry and sex starved denizens, recalling the horror of that first time. Hands had grabbed for him, holding him down as they abused his body, forcing their way inside with just soap to ease their passage, enjoying his cries of pain, biting hard into his shoulder and neck as they emptied themselves inside him.
Rape was rape, no matter that his preference was for his own gender and Michael shuddered as he recalled the many times he was held down and violated or forced into acts of fellatio that would have been so glorious with Danny.
Eighteen months of hell where the only respite came at night as he lay curled up on the lower bunk with his near homophobic cell mate.
His thoughts turned to Beth, the woman scorned, wondering if she ever regretted the part she played in destroying his and Danny's lives.
While in prison, he resolved never to go back to the small town of his birth knowing that he would find no welcome there. His family had disowned him as soon as the news of his arrest for buggery reached them, and his former friends deserted him. Instead he headed north over the border into Canada as soon as he was released, losing himself in the wide open spaces, moving from place to place; a drifter barely able to find work because of his limited mobility.
An echo of laughter and loving words reached out to him from the past, caressing his mind with haunting eloquence and he visualized the merriment in dark eyes; the love and pleasure only for him.
This is what he wanted to remember of Danny, not the fear and anger that came as they were dragged half-naked from the room to face stares of accusation and revulsion, nor the brutal hands that held him tightly as the police marched them off. He wanted to remember the soft murmurings of desire, the gentle touches upon his flesh with a lover's caress, and his willing submission as Danny covered him with his body, rocking into him slowly, possessing him mind, body and soul.
Michael drew the letter from his pocket and smoothed out the paper that he had crumpled in anger and grief so many weeks earlier.
'My son died in prison. I hope you're satisfied.'
The letter fluttered to the floor unnoticed, dropping from numbed fingers as the full weight of Michael's grief overtook him.
"Oh Danny," he whispered as he collapsed onto the bed, hands clutching at the bed linen, inhaling deeply as if he could still catch the scent of his lover in the sheets. Deep sobs pulled up from the depth of his soul and for the first time in five years, he cried for the love he had known and lost.