NOCICEPTOR or FORTITUDE PASS, REVISITED

Nociceptor = a receptor that responds selectively to destructive stimuli.

He is sleeping now. You sit in bed, beside him, chin on knees, and watch him. The room is cold. He gave you all the blankets, but you shiver anyway. Sleep smooths the sharp lines around his eyes. A few of the lines suggest pain, fewer still laughter. It's a hard face, the face of a man who asks little, receives less and gives nothing away. His hands, calloused and roughened by frostbite are unused to caresses and hard coils of muscle lie beneath his skin. You cannot pretend to have been comfortable in his arms.

Yet there is no place you'd rather be. There hasn't been one day in ten years when you haven't thought about him. When the doctor cut into you, you clenched your teeth and visualised his face. When the guards took you and slammed you up against the wall again and again, you saw his face, felt his hands on you. But since he was the guard, the guard is also him and what should have been love, what could have been redemption, was violation instead.

Some people give life, hope, meaning. You bring ruin and burn ships. What you touch, you taint. It has always been thus.This man was your last hope and as your mouths met and your bodies entwined, you prayed, your hands clenched into fists: Fill me again. Give my life meaning. Take this cup of bitterness from me.

It was as useful as all your other prayers and realising this, you put toys aside and played to him instead, an full evening's symphony of desire and longing. The real you stood to the side and watched the show, only mildly interested in the mounts and dismounts of the act.

Of more interest to you was the emotions washing over his face and displacing the placid vacancy of innocence. Long have you thought him untouched and untouchable. This is the first time you have been able to trail your footprints across the snow and even if marring him gives you no pleasure, you were satisfied to see that it could be done.

You aren't sure if there are victims here or who they would be. His friend, perhaps. Your friend, most certainly. But you and him deserve what is coming to you, no matter what it would be. And your plan is hardly unreasonable. One day of what your life has been for the last ten years is but a taste and then you'll take him away from here. If he'll follow, it's proof enough of his love for you. That you came here is proof of yours.

He might, of course, see things differently. Men are that way, full of surprises. Like the handcuffs at Fortitude Pass. Maybe you cannot make him understand. What it was like, what it's like for you now. But you know you have to try.

FIN