At 4pm on-the-dot, a knock came at their apartment door and Leto went to answer it. The young woman they had met at the hospital stood nervously outside.
“Come in,” Leto said invitingly. “You remember Miranda, and this is our friend Henry.”
“Nice to meet you,” she said. “My name is Rachel.”
Rachel pulled a small device out of her purse, looking at Andreas. “Do you mind if I record this interview? It will help keep this more conversational.”
“Record?” Andreas asked, clutching a steaming cup of coffee.
“Yeah like, well, you know, I hit this button and it saves everything we say, get it?” Rachel tried to explain.
Andreas didn’t fully understand, but it seemed harmless enough. He nodded in approval. “Ok.”
“Great!” Rachel said with an enthusiastic smile and she pushed the button and placed the device on the table next to the bed. Leto brought over a chair for her to sit down on. “Thank you!”
Leto joined Andreas on the bed while Henry and Miranda hung back at the table.
“So, first let me get your names for the record, can you tell me your first and last names, and spell them for me?” Rachel asked.
Andreas told her both his and Leto’s names, spelling them out. Leto hadn’t yet perfected his reading skills and Andreas didn’t want to embarrass him further by letting him try to fumble through spelling his name. Leto squeezed his hand gratefully.
“Thanks, and…are you both in a relationship together?” she asked.
Andreas and Leto both blushed and nodded. “Yes, we are, and we’ve known each other for a few years now. The…relationship…part is a bit new though,” Andreas replied.
“And you both work at the mission, correct?” Rachel asked.
“Yes we do. We started by helping in the kitchen, but then Miranda was kind enough to let me start a small clinic to help the people with injuries and such. Leto was also just starting up a self-defense class as well. Ironically I was supposed to take his class yesterday after lunch,” Andreas explained. “Not that I’m so sure there was much I could do. My attacker was much larger and stronger than I am.”
Leto harrumphed but chose not to say anything more for now. Andreas just squeezed his hand and smirked at him.
“Why did you choose to work at the mission?” Rachel asked next.
“Well we both needed a means to earn some income, and Miranda was kind enough to take us both on,” Andreas began. “The work suited me perfectly. I just love helping people in greater need than myself.”
“You like helping people even when you have a greater need,” Leto said quietly. “How often did you go without a proper meal or sleep in your clinic?”
“I couldn’t turn away people in need, you know that,” Andreas said softly.
“Yes, I know,” Leto said looking at Andreas and forgetting all about Rachel for a moment. “It’s one reason I love you, Amatus.”
“Aw, you two are so sweet together,” Rachel said, bringing the two back into the present moment. “What does that word mean? Amatus?”
Leto blushed but before he could reply Henry intervened. “It’s his pet name for Andreas. It’s Latin and basically translates into ‘beloved.’”
“Wow, you know Latin? That’s so cool,” Rachel said. “Where did you learn it?”
“I…uh…grew up speaking it,” Leto said hesitantly.
“Wow, your parents must have been very well educated then,” Rachel said, sounding impressed.
“No, my parents were slaves,” Leto growled before Henry could intervene.
Henry spoke up before Rachel could press further. “Leto and his family were forced into servitude by a real sadistic bastard. He only allowed them to speak and understand Latin so that they couldn’t understand conversations he had with his guests.”
Leto nodded at that. It sounded plausible enough.
“Wow, how’d you get away from all that?” Rachel pressed.
“It’s a very long story, but I have been free now for several years,” Leto said. “The rest of my family were not as fortunate.”
“Your English is very good,” Rachel said, praising the elf. “Since we’re talking about you, would you mind telling me about your body modifications?”
Leto paused, trying to compose himself. “My former…master…forced the modifications on me. He told me they made me more…beautiful,” Leto shuddered at the memory. He tried to not emphasize the marking so that Rachel would assume his ears were part of the forced modifications.
“Oh my, so you were forced to work for him and he also tortured you?” Rachel asked in sympathy.
“Yes. I was…both tortured and raped by him,” Leto admitted. Andreas squeezed his hand in sympathy.
“Oh you dear man, that’s horrible!” Rachel said. “Is that what brought you to the US? To escape that?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes,” Leto nodded.
“What about you Andreas? What’s your story? Why did you come here?” Rachel asked.
“My story isn’t really that much different from Leto’s. I wasn’t a slave, but I was locked away, beaten and raped repeatedly by an organization that was supposed to protect people like me,” Andreas explained. “I tried to escape many times and they always found me. Now that I’m here in the US, I hope they will never find me again.”
“What do you mean by ‘people like you’?” Rachel asked curiously.
Henry intervened again. “He was orphaned around the age of 12. Not everyone at the orphanage he grew up in were…very kind.”
Andreas cleared his throat and nodded. “Yes, and some of the…guards…at the orphanage, took an unsavory liking to me.”
“Oh wow, that’s just awful. Is that what drew you both together? Your past experiences with such abuse?” Rachel asked.
Leto smiled and shook his head. “Not at first, no. We actually argued a lot when we first met. I don’t think our old friends would have ever guessed we would one day be…together.”
“What changed all that?” Rachel asked.
“Well, coming together to this…country. Having to rely on each other to survive. Andreas was the only thing familiar to me and so I was drawn to him because of it,” Leto explained. “I guess…after that I began to realize how much we actually have in common and things developed from there.”
“So the attack yesterday,” Rachel asked hesitatingly. “That must have been so traumatic, to come here to escape such abuse, only to find it again?”
Andreas nodded. “I’ve been through a lot worse, but yes. It brought back a lot of bad memories. Leto’s been helping me through it. I would be a mess without him here.”
“Do you know why you were attacked, or was it just some random thing?” Rachel asked.
“It was revenge. The first day we started working at the mission, there was a guy named Howard,” Andreas began. “He picked up on the fact that Leto and I were…together. He taunted both of us for it and…got himself fired for his trouble.”
“Some time later he hired some thugs to attack us as we left work one evening,” Leto continued the story. “We were successful in defeating them and decided not to press charges at the time. We had thought he’d given up until the attack yesterday.”
“So Howard is some kind of homophobe, bent on revenge for losing his job? And he blames you both for that?” Rachel asked.
“Yes.” Andreas and Leto both nodded.
“That’s terrible!” Rachel said. “I hope he gets what he deserves. What has been the response to all this?”
Henry spoke up again. “That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about. I discovered that someone who heard about what happened to Andreas has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help him out.”
“How exciting! How much has been donated so far?” Rachel asked.
“Over $50,000 the last time we looked,” Henry said. “They named the campaign ‘Help Generous Gay Mission Volunteer Who Was Assaulted.”
“Me? Generous?” Andreas blushed.
Leto grabbed Andreas’ hand into both of us. “Yes, you are a very generous man, Amatus. You are always giving more of yourself than anyone would ever ask of you.”
Andreas blushed a little deeper.
Rachel grabbed her device and hit the button again, turning it off. “Well I think I have more than enough to write my article. I need to go type it up and hopefully it will be in the paper in the next day or two at most. Thank you so much!”
Miranda rose, having been mostly silent up until now. “Let me see you out, I’d like a word or two in private, if you don’t mind?”
“Not at all. It was nice to meet you all! I hope you get better soon Andreas!” Rachel said with a wave as she and Miranda left the apartment together.
Andreas relaxed, leaning back into his pillows again. “She seemed nice.”
“You think everyone seems nice, until they prove you wrong,” Leto chided.
“Good point, Love.” Andreas said, chuckling softly.
Andreas then looked at Henry. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”
Henry laughed. “You really are too selfless for your own good. I told my boss that a close friend got attacked and that I needed to give him some moral support and he gave me the day off.”
A few moments later Miranda returned. “I talked to her and tried to steer her article in the most positive direction possible,” she explained. “I’m also relieved that cup of coffee helped you Andreas. I’ll admit I was a touch nervous that you would come across as high.”
“I used to be really good at faking being sober, even when I was completely drunk,” Andreas shrugged. “The coffee did help a lot though, so that was an excellent idea.”
Leto then looked pointedly at Henry and Miranda. “I think this has been enough excitement for one day. I think Andreas requires his rest.”
Henry chuckled. “Always to the point. Alright, Leto, you’re right. Come on Miranda, I’ll walk you out.”
Miranda nodded, grabbing her purse. “I’ll check in on you both tomorrow. Call me if you need anything! I’ll stay on top of that crowdfunding campaign for you.”
“Thanks Miranda, Henry,” Andreas said with a yawn. “I guess a nap couldn’t hurt.”
Once their two friends had left, Leto began tucking Andreas into bed, but Andreas resisted. “Leto, um. I need to use the bathroom.”
Leto frowned. “It’s time isn’t it? I recall you dreading this earlier.”
“Yes, dreading it a lot actually, but it’s not something that I can hold back until I heal either. Again something else that makes me miss my magic,” Andreas said with a sigh, slowly rising from the bed. Leto let Andreas lean on him to keep him steady. “Hopefully the painkiller I took will help make this easier?”
It turned out the painkillers didn’t make it easier at all, and Leto held Andreas for comfort as his lover screamed through the pain. This seemed to hurt worse than the actual assault had. Once it was all said and done, there was definitely more damage and blood and Leto helped Andreas clean up and apply more of the salve to his ruined rectum.
Afterwards Andreas was once again tucked into bed and Leto let him sleep, watching over him and worrying about the man he loved.
Some hours later Andreas awoke, looking up at Leto seated in the chair beside the bed. “Why didn’t you join me?”
“I didn’t know if you would want me to. I can’t imagine I’d want to be touched after going through what you did,” Leto said softly, his expression hard and unreadable.
“Oh my love, yours is the one touch I will always want, no matter what happens,” Andreas said.
Leto’s expression softened and he leaned in to give Andreas a chaste kiss. “Now, would you like some soup? I think it’s also time for your next dose of medicine.”
“Thank you for taking such good care of me,” Andreas said. “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such a wonderful man in my life.”
“By being kind, selfless and caring,” Leto replied. “Now it’s your turn to be cared for.”
Leto moved off to make soup and brought Andreas a glass of water to take his medication with. They then sat in companionable silence as they both ate a bowl of soup.
Once Andreas was finished, Leto took their bowls and placed them into the tiny dishwasher in their kitchenette. As he turned back towards Andreas he noted the man was crying. Leto quickly crossed over to the bed and got in behind him, pulling him close.
“Amatus, what’s wrong?” Leto asked, concerned.
“I’m such a fool. I shouldn’t have let myself be so open to attack. I used to know better. I always had assistants around just in case of such an eventuality back in Kirkwall,” Andreas said, softly sniffling. “Now I’ve just messed things up for the two of us.”
“You haven’t messed anything up, Amatus,” Leto said, smoothing Andreas’ hair. “You will heal and in the mean time we can enjoy each other’s company in other ways.”
“Like how? We’ve mostly just had sex, and I…well obviously I just can’t. Not for a while,” Andreas sighed.
“I was…thinking about asking you to help me learn how to read?” Leto asked hopefully.
“You’d let me do that for you?” Andreas asked. “It would be an honor to teach you, Love,” Andreas said, hugging Leto’s arms to his chest. “We could start tomorrow, but maybe you could ask Henry to bring by some beginner books to start with?”
Leto nodded, pulling out his phone. He switched on the voice to text command and spoke into the phone.
“Andreas will teach me how to read. When you have time can you bring by some beginner reading books for me?”
A few moments later a reply from Henry came through. Leto handed it to Andreas to read.
Sure thing. I’ll bring them by tomorrow.
Leto smiled and then decided it was time for the both of them to prepare for bed. “Are you up for taking a shower?”
“Maker, yes! I feel very unclean. Will you join me?” Andreas asked.
“Don’t ask such silly questions, of course I’ll join you,” Leto said, helping Andreas up.
They took their time in the hot shower, Leto carefully keeping his touches to Andreas chaste, only helping him wash. Afterwards they did their other nightly ablutions and changed into fresh t-shirts and underwear before returning to bed.
Leto grabbed a hair brush and began slowly brushing out Andreas’ damp hair. “Your hair has grown quite long,” he noted conversationally. “I quite like it like this. I’ve always loved the color of your hair.”
Andreas blushed. “Thanks love. That feels really nice. Can I brush yours when you’re done?”
Leto hummed in approval and when he was done brushing Andreas’ hair they both turned over and Andreas slowly brushed through Leto’s silver white locks that had also grown longer. “Yours is also getting quite long, Love. I think it looks good on you.”
“I…I know you hate what Danarius did to you. As you should because what he forced you to endure was…horrific,” Andreas began. “But…since you can’t get rid of them or hide them…please know that your markings, even in black, and your white hair…they really make you very beautiful. Without them you would still be amazingly handsome and sexy as the void, but with them…Maker, you’re almost transcendent.”
“I…thank you, Amatus,” Leto said quietly. “Only from you I will accept that as a compliment.” Leto turned and gave Andreas another chaste kiss.
Andreas then took one more dose of medication just before slipping under the covers and pulling Leto close. Andreas held Leto in his arms as they drifted off to sleep together.