In a small town, people talked so when Michael figured he was different to the other boys, preferring the harder planes of male bodies to the soft curves of girls, he kept his mouth shut and hands firmly by his sides. He resisted the urge to reach out and touch, afraid of being caught and branded a homosexual. His father had told him what happened to men who preferred other men; of how the Police would find their broken, beaten bodies in a ditch outside of town and call it a tragic car accident. His father told him about those who were sent to prison, sharing cells with the Godless of society, their bodies used and abused as punishment for their sins against decency and God.
It put the fear of God into Michael and yet it couldn't eradicate the desire he felt whenever he saw the way a boy's muscle moved beneath skin, or the way sparse chest hair curled around tiny nipples. He adored the curve of another boy's ass, imagining what secrets lay within, and had to mentally chastise himself many a time when he was almost caught staring at another man or boy's groin. His masturbation fantasies were filled with men, and that enticing bulge at his own groin lengthened into silken steel when his fingers wrapped around the shaft, imagining it was another man's dick rather than his own. Images of men played behind his eyes as he stroked himself to completion; with their masculine faces and heavier muscle. In his fantasies they were touching themselves , running fingers over flat discs of nipples rather than fondling the heavier, obscene looking breasts of women. Michael liked the ridges of defined muscle and dreamed of the larger, more powerful hands that dug into his skin, and the longer, thicker fingers that opened him, brushing over that sensitive spot inside and making him come so hard he saw stars every time.
As he grew out of gangly adolescence, his interest in other men never waned despite the girls who would flutter their eyelashes at him and his best friend, Danny. He'd known Danny all his life, and perhaps that was why he'd never really noticed the other boy until that hot summer's day when Danny convinced him to go skinny dipping at the old pond.
On that day, Michael discovered he had a preference even among men and boys. Dark hair and olive skin, hazel-green eyes and a long, lean runner's body, just like Danny's. Blonds and beefcake did nothing for him.
That bright summer's day would change his life forever, and he still recalled how a simple play fight in the water had led to the amazing feel of Danny's wet skin sliding under his hands; of how they had ended up with arms wrapped around torsos, hard cocks thrusting up against muscled bellies until they both came with a gasp of completion. The water had washed away any physical evidence of anything untoward but had left both of them shaking in shock and amazement. There'd been a moment when they'd both started to panic, more scared of how the other would react to finding out they preferred cock than of the act itself. Once they realized they had both wanted it, had both enjoyed it, and that they both wanted it again and again, their fate was sealed.
Moments were stolen in quiet hideaways found in their misspent youth, pleasuring each other and trying not to hate the knowledge that this had to remain a secret. Often Danny would berate Michael for not taking a girlfriend to make their cover stronger, the way he had started to court Beth but Michael had always found the thought of sex with a girl repulsive.
When the war started, Michael hadn't wanted to enlist. He managed to dissuade Danny at first but as the war in Europe worsened, Danny's need to be a part of the solution grew deeper until, eventually, he could hold out no longer. Perhaps if Michael hadn't cared so much then he might have let him go, but he had loved Danny all of his life and he couldn't bear to see him go to war alone. With so many other men in the camp around them, privacy had been hard to find but they managed occasionally; trading quick hand jobs and kisses in the dark. At Le Mesnil-Patry, Danny saved his life, dragging his wounded body from the battlefield and getting him to a medical evacuation post; they shipped him home with a shrapnel-damaged leg. Less than a year later, Beth came to Michael's door and told him Danny was coming home and wanted to meet them off the boat at a hotel.
He'd been too elated to notice the hardness in her eyes, too overjoyed at being reunited with his lover and best friend to see the way her fingernails dug into her palms, or the tightness of her mouth. In hindsight, all the signs of her jealousy and disgust were there, that she'd figured them out as lovers, and she had set them up for the fall; a woman scorned.
At least she had granted them an hour before the police banged on the door and caught them lying naked together as the pungency of male sex filled the room. With Danny's come still oozing from his ass, neither had a chance to deny the claims of sodomy, and Michael still recalled the disgust in those men's eyes as they threw his pants at him and forced him to climb into them with his ass still slick and sticky. They'd been no mistaking the hatred in Beth's eyes as they dragged both of them from the room, or when she testified against them later in court.
Michael lost touch with Danny while in prison, and he only learned why, learned of Danny's death, a year later.
Yet the horror that had followed Beth's betrayal had never diminished the memory of that last moments spent as lovers; the way their bodies had fitted together so perfectly; the feel of Danny's gun-callused fingers, so gentle and warm as they smoothed over Michael's skin. It had never dulled the exquisite pleasure of Danny moving inside him, taking him higher and higher until they soared together that one last time.
"Was he a friend?"
Michael looked up from the aged and battered, black and white photograph of a dark-haired man smiling broadly, wearing a Canadian Army uniform, just before they headed out to Normandy that day in 1944. He smiled into a face that looked so much like a reflection in a mirror to the past; his great nephew, Rodney.
Michael reached out and caught Robert's hand, interlacing their fingers. His memories of Danny no longer hurt, the wounds cleansed and healed by a man who'd become more than a lover, more than a best friend. A man who'd become his soul mate over these past decades. They were two old men now, with no doubts left or secrets between them. They loved each other so he knew Robert wouldn't be hurt by his words.
"Danny... He was my best friend... a long time ago."