Written 26 July 2002

For Susan

This work is not to be reproduced in any way or archived
anywhere without the express written permission of the author

He still loves her very much, I know.

I wonder sometimes, as we're making love, as we're twined together in the heat of passion, if he thinks of her, misses her, wants her still.

We have lived together here in Canada for six months now. Three months after we'd moved here, we were chopping wood and during a break, he asked, "Where's the States, Fraser?" With a gloved hand, I pointed out over the horizon and he just nodded and went back to stacking wood.

There's many a day that I find him staring out over the horizon, and I wonder – but have been too afraid to ask – what he's looking for.

And there are the days when he looks at me furtively and then quickly away, and I wonder what he's thinking.

The scars from her abuse mark his body, their silvery lines testament to the love he bore for her.

She struck him, bit him, burned him, cut him… and still he stayed, still he loved.

Loves still.

It hurts me that he was so abused, that he was a victim and never spoke up, not ever. Not until me. He told me, he shared with me.

"This one, here, she was pissed because I forgot her suits at the cleaners," he said nonchalantly, pointing to a mark on his thigh, made by a knife.

The first time we made love, I didn't notice the marks. How could I? His beauty awed me, blinded me, and while it still does, I wish I could kiss away the pain, and the suffering.

When I woke next to him the next day, I took that opportunity to look at his body unhindered. Scars spread across the surface of his body, and the bile rose in my throat at the sight of the marks of abuse – I've seen them on victims before. Somehow, I knew they were from her.

The bitch.

I hate her. I will never forgive her for hurting Ray.

For God's sake, the woman burned his back with an iron! All because he fell asleep during her recital of a case, after he'd not had sleep for 48 hours.

How could she hurt him so? Not just physically, but mentally also? He's a wonderful, kind, considerate lover, and I could not ask for more.

I hate being second. I hate what she did to him, and I hate that she comes first.

Tension stretches between us as time goes by, as I notice him looking towards the horizon – towards her – more and more.

Finally, one night after dinner, I cannot bear it any longer.

"Do you want her back?" I blurt.

"Huh?" He looks at me, startled, from where he's washing the dishes. "Who?"

"Stella," I say tightly.

He glowers at me. "Where's that coming from, huh?"

I glower back. "You keep looking towards the horizon."

"Oh. That," he says, looking shamefaced. "Just a little homesick." I stare at him. He looks away from me as he rinses the pot. "And I got a lot on my mind."

"Which is?" I ask, getting up and moving to stand behind him.

He turns to face me but he glances at the floor, the walls, the ceiling, anywhere but me, "I just – I just wonder why you don't – why you… don't…."

My mouth falls open and I blink. "What?" I croak.

"I'm a fuck up, and I know you got pissed the other night when I left the coffee pot on… I just, I wonder when –"

"Good Lord, Ray," I gasp, pulling him into my arms, closing my eyes against the tears that threaten to overcome me when I feel him flinch then stiffen before finally relaxing against me. "I wasn't angry. I wasn't. I wouldn't – I couldn't hit you… hurt you."

"Deserve it, I guess," he mutters against my neck.

"No you don't. You never did, Ray." I shake my head. "Not ever. If I could take it away from you, I would."

He pulls back and looks at me for a minute then touches my cheek and murmurs, "You're so gentle with me, so careful. Like I'll break sometimes."

Thinking of the way he reacts sometimes when I touch him – when he flinches and draws away from me, I whisper, "Sometimes I think you will." He looks ashamed and I kiss him, holding him close, saying, as I pull away to look him in the eyes, "I love you, Ray, I love you."

"I love you, Ben… I'm just… I just… I love you too. I'm tired. Can we go to bed?" He leans against me, and I nod, squeezing him a little too tightly.

I move to turn out the lights and he goes to our bedroom. By the time I step into the room, he's curled up under the covers, and my heart aches at the pain he's suffering with. When I slide in behind him, I kiss the back of his neck.

He turns in my arms and touches my face – he does that often – and I kiss his fingers. He moves against me, rocking his pelvis against mine and I kiss my way across his palm then onto his face, his throat, his ears.

He's humming and moving against me restlessly, his fingers dancing across my skin, and I roll us over. He hooks his legs around mine, and our mouths fuse together as we slide against each other.

Ray kisses me hungrily, as if he's stealing my soul. I suck on his tongue and he moans, his fingers digging into my back as the evidence of his orgasm slides between our bodies and coats my penis. I moan into his mouth, rock against him some more and then hiss as I too, orgasm.

I drop kisses across his cheek, his eyes and I murmur, "Never hurt you, Ray. Never."

He presses his face into my neck and trembles as I hold him tight, a slight wetness on my neck betraying his tears.

He's a strong man, a capable man, and I love him.

Somehow, my perception changes as I hold him. I'm not second. I'm first – the first man to love him, to touch him – and the first to treat him with the respect and the honour he's due. The first person he's loved who hasn't hurt and abused him.

I'm not second.

I'm first.

Email Bast