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The Mask

Category: Gay Male
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Pain. Hot. Blinding. Horrid pain. There was heat and wetness. But all I knew was pain. Over and over the waves of agony swelled inside me. I opened my eyes but could barely see the twisted mound of metal that was once my car. Panic rose inside me. I looked as far as my head would pivot, but I saw little but blurriness.

Sharp needles screamed inside my head when I moved. I knew to try and stay awake. But I lost the battle. I looked up at the moon, wondering if I would ever see it again as the world faded to black.


I work in a hospital. More to the point, I volunteer at a hospital. I found that volunteering in the neo-natal ICU allows me to help without causing any harm. Premature babies need so much attention. Sometimes just being held, rocked gently in the warm, caring arms of someone is all that they need to help get them through the days. So I volunteer my time with those babies that were born without parents who cared, addicted to some substance from the mother, or so sick, that they just needed that extra help. I come to the hospital at night where only the hospital staff could see me. I stay from shortly after visiting hours end until the wee hours of the morning when those who do have families, are allowed to come into the ICU.

It is better this way, that I do this at night. I walk along the corridors of the hospital, ever weary of coming across some grieving family or some innocent who may be lost. On those times, I hide myself from view quickly, not wanting to add to the stress of their days. When the night is over, I return to my home, to read, listen to music, teach myself to cook, or any of the other activities I have taught myself in the past few years. And when I am exhausted, tired beyond my strength, I collapse against my bed and pray that sleep will visit without being riddled with images from the past.

It had been a long day at the hospital. I was exhausted. More so from lack of sleep than anything I had done in the previous twelve hours. I spent the night holding a little girl, born so early and so addicted to whatever drug its mother had been using. All I could do was hold the baby close, absorbing its cries into my flesh, rubbing gently the aches and screaming pain of withdrawal. When 5:00AM arrived, before the next shift came on, I bid goodnight to Ruth, the night charge nurse, and started making my journey through the corridors, heading out into the night sky. But as I was heading towards the East entrance, there was a grieving family huddled around a room that looked as if there had been a code blue, the universal words signaling heart attack or cardiac arrest. I backed away from that hall, turning down a deserted corridor, silently adding my prayers to those of the grieving family’s. As I moved down my new path, just before I turned a corner that would lead me to the parking lot, I passed a room in which the occupant made me pause. I knew roughly what types of patient’s were kept in each area of the hospital. The area I had just passed was for trauma patients. This area was for patients in comas. I stepped inside the room, drawn by some force I still cannot recognize. I stood by the bed in the cold, sterile room. I looked down at its occupant and felt my heart quicken.

He was a big man. His head reached the edge of the slightly inclined bed. His feet brushed just past the far end of the bed. Which would make him roughly my height. He was strong, built sturdy and muscular, also not unlike myself. He hadn’t been there too long. His beard stubble, which was thick and dark, was maybe two days old. For some reason they had shaved his chest and it also was stubbly. His face was wrapped in bandages, from the bridge of his nose to the crown of his head. His ears were free, but his eyes covered with thick pads. His chin, lips, and jaw were badly bruised, disfigured and discolored. His chest had a large bandage covering most of his left pectoral muscle and the sheets covered him from about mid stomach down, but I could still see the bandages. His leg was in a pressure cast. His hands and forearms were covered in bandages as well.

A respirator was breathing for him and there were tubes coming out of almost everywhere. Just looking at him made me tear up. It was probably best that he was unconscious; unable to feel the agony his body must be in. His thick chest moved rhythmically with the respirator and a heart monitor kept up its steady vigilance. My breathing quickened as I crept forward. I didn’t know who this man was or what had happened to him, but I was drawn to him. I stood by his side, looking down at his chest, powerful and strong. I placed my hand on his arm, unable to do otherwise. I was assailed by his heat, the man was an inferno, but not feverish. He was alive, bristling with it, defying death.

My hand gripped his arm more firmly, molding my fingers and palm to the thick muscles and warm, smooth skin of his bicep. I heard the heart monitor slow, not beep as erratically as it had been. The respirator became smooth, less jerky. I looked at the monitor; his pulse had slowed from 60 to 50 beats per minute. My anxiety rose a bit and I made a motion to leave, but then I saw his body relax. For that could be the only word for it. It was as if he was resting easier.

Sometime later, a nurse came into the room and flipped on the lights and I jumped. I dropped my hand from his arm and bolted. I rushed out of the hospital, amazed that the sun had already raised. When I looked at my dash clock, almost three hours had passed from when I normally leave the hospital. I drove home, my hands shaking from adrenaline and some unnamed factor that I didn’t want to examine too closely. I got home and rushed inside, cursing myself for deviating from my schedule, upset that I had to cross the street so late when there were so many people about. I walked into my apartment and collapsed on my easy chair. I sat immobile for hours, just staring off into space, unable to get that man out of my mind. Somehow I fell asleep. I awoke to find my house dark. Tonight is a night I normally don’t go to the hospital. I didn’t plan on going at all. But I just couldn’t get him out of my head. An hour later I was walking through the corridors of the hospital, finding his room. I walked into the darkness, hearing the machines make their noises. I walked right up to him and placed my hand on his arm. Warm, just like this morning. And then it happened again. His pulse slowed, his breathing evened, his body relaxed.

I stood by his side for hours. I never took my eyes away from his lips, his mouth, his rhythmically rising and falling chest. I just stood in place, watching him breathe, feeling the warmth of his arm. I was entranced. I was dazed. I felt my own body calm in a way it hadn’t in many years. It was only the flickering change of his heart monitor, barely seen through my peripheral vision that had me look up. On the machine was the time, almost four in the morning. I had come to the hospital at a little after eight. I noticed that my feet hurt and my back was stiff and my arm trembled from staying in one place so long. But the most amazing thing was that his pulse had risen. I looked back down into his face, seeing if there was a change in the breathing in his chest. Then his arm flexed under my fingers and his body shook. He raised his hand to his mouth and I felt more than heard him scream.


I swam in blackness. My mind wanted concentration. But each time I came close, the pain was there, waiting, swatting at me like a caged animal. And each time it did, I retreated back, behind the wall of darkness where it couldn’t get to me. All that existed was the endless night. And then I felt a presence. Someone was there, as if calling to me. I moved towards the presence, fighting my way through layers of black, being beaten by the pain. I worked so hard to get to the presence; that touch. There was compassion waiting for me; warmth and kindness. I tried so hard. But the pain won and I sank back into the dark night. I drifted back a couple of times; wanting to see if the warmth was there. But the pain beat me each time.

And then, some unknowable time later, it was back. I kept pushing forward, delving through the layers that were my prison. The pain was intense, almost more than I could deal with. But the presence never left. It was waiting for me, that warmth and compassion. I rose up; searching for the real world, where whoever it was was waiting for me. And then I was there. The presence was a hand, on my arm. It was a large hand, strong and warm. And then I became aware of the pain, which hit me full force. I tried to open my eyes, and when I did, there was only darkness. I tried to speak, but there was something in my mouth, down my throat. Panic hit me in waves. I started to move, but it hurt too much. I raised my hand to my mouth, needing to get whatever it was that was choking me out. I raised my hand and I felt gauze on my lips. My hands hurt. The pain was so much, so intense. Then I heard someone speak. The voice was male and deep and husky, either from disuse or emotion, I wasn’t sure which. I was too panicked to understand the words; but the tone and the inclination were there. It was compassion that I heard and caring and kindness. It took much effort, but I nodded my head, letting him know I understood. His grip got tighter on my arm, and I started to calm. The man told me he was going to call for a nurse. But the pain was too much and I was tired from my journey out of the dark. I fell asleep.


My heart started to slow once I realized he was asleep. I had already called for the nurse. When she arrived, I explained what had happened, how he had come awake and panicked. She called the on call doctor. I never left his side, holding on to his arm. A few minutes later, the doctor arrived. I recognized him from some of my wanderings in the halls. He nodded at me when he arrived and started to look his patient over. During the exam, he woke up and thrashed until I spoke to him. I told him everything was going to be fine and he calmed. The doctor looked up at me and I could tell he wanted to ask questions. After a couple more minutes, the doctor asked that I leave while they removed the respirator and changed some bandages. I stepped outside the room, with my back against the wall next to the door. The nurse came and went a couple of times, bringing supplies, some gauze and other medical supplies. Then I heard a loud grumbling moan. I knew then that they had removed the respirator tube. The doctor came out shortly and spoke with me. He told me about his injuries, how they were progressing and what his recovery would be like from there. He had been in a car accident. The respirator was due to his lung collapsing. He had some nasty abdominal internal injuries as well. But the worst was the fragments of glass and metal in his eyes. They had gotten all of it, but it would be a few weeks before the bandages came off and they could be sure he would be able to see. His jaw had been dislocated, explaining the bruising. His hands and forearms had minor second-degree burns on them. I nodded through his long explanation; inwardly cringing at the pain he must be going through. Then the doctor asked me how I knew the man. I told him the truth that I had simply seen him while walking out to my car after a night of volunteering. He told me that it was my presence that was helping keep him calm. The doctor smiled at me then left. I took a couple of deep breaths then went back inside the room.

They had increased the incline on the bed; he was sitting up now. His head swiveled towards me as I entered. His voice was deep and gravelly, probably raw due to the respirator tube.

“What is your name?”

“Cory. Yours?”

“Will. Thank you. For being here.” It was said with a shrug of his shoulders, almost an embarrassed gesture. I smiled at him, though he couldn’t see it. I walked over to his side. I hesitated for a few seconds, but I ended up putting my hand on his arm again. He was still just as warm as before. His muscles tensed under my fingers for a second. I cleared my throat. “Is there someone I can call for you?”

He shook his head. “No. No family.”


“Yes, many years ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It happens.”

We talked a bit more, mostly just inane questions about his injuries. He got tired quickly and fell asleep. I stayed though. I stayed until early morning. My hand never left his arm. He woke up before I left that morning. I promised him I would return later that evening. When I got home, I found myself smiling at odd times. We hardly spoke; he slept for so much of the evening. But it was camaraderie. For the first time in over seven years, I felt connected. I don’t really know what it is we share exactly, but I like the feeling. I don’t think I have ever felt this way. I found myself standing in the kitchen, chopping vegetables and simmering broth. Chicken soup. I was making the old-fashioned cure all for Will. Normally, I would have felt foolish, but instead, I just grinned and whistled a tune as I continued to cook.


Over the next couple of days, I found that the fog I was living in lessened each day. Both the pain and the painkillers became less of a focus. I found myself sleeping and deeply, but I was able to concentrate and be wakeful when I needed to be. Or when I wanted to be. Cory came to my room each night. If I were asleep, he would just stand by my side, silently, with his hand upon my arm. It was a reassuring gesture. It was a warm and friendly, caring act of kindness. I found myself anticipating his arrival and missing his presence when I was alone. Each night he would bring me some different tidbit that he cooked. First it was a rich and hearty chicken soup. Then another day he brought chocolate chip cookies. When I told him that I was dying for something spicy, he brought in an enchilada that brought tears to my eyes.

While I ate, Cory would talk to me, telling me sweet stories from his childhood. There was such love in his tales. His parents were obviously very close, warm, loving people who had adored their child. Even when he told me that his dad had died in a car accident, there was love and joy in his tale, simply because the man had loved his son so much, that the pain must have been great, but the sweet memories lived on. He even spoke with affection about his mother’s second marriage and his stepbrother and sister. It took a few days, but I realized that his stories didn’t seem to go beyond when Cory was seventeen. And when I pressed, he would change the subject, or try and take care of me. So I usually changed the subject, really just thrilled to have a companion to talk with.

My leg wasn’t broken in the crash, but the tendons were swollen because I hyper-extended my knee. The pressure cast was just to give them a chance to heal. As soon as I got the last tubes taken from me, I was given a walker. And with Cory’s unflagging help, I took my first few steps along the hall. Even though I lived in blackness, my eyes still not healed, when I was with Cory, I wasn’t afraid. It didn’t scare me to walk, because I knew that he would catch me if I fell or at the very least, keep me from walking into the walls. I couldn’t see him, but I knew so much about him. He is tall. Although when I stood, he was surprised because I was taller than his six-five. He has a very solid, sturdy, hulking build. I felt it when he wrapped his arm around me, helping me back into bed. His voice is deep and melodic, with a smooth timbre to it. His laugh isn’t often, but it is true and joyous when it does occur. I find myself wondering what color his hair is or his eyes. I’m curious if his smile is as great as I think it is. I wonder if he is gay, like me. His touch is so gentle, so kind. It is unlike what a straight man would bestow upon another man. I feel like I get mixed signals from him. Then I pass it off as being unable to see his face and facial expressions. In another week or so, the bandages come off. And I can’t wait to see Cory’s smiling, kind, and compassionate face.


The past few weeks have been so different for me. I’ve never felt this way before. Or more to the point, I have never allowed myself to feel this way before. I think about Will constantly. And I smile. More so than I think I ever have. It is getting more difficult to hide how I feel. When I stand by his bedside, I find myself listening with half my mind. The other half is feasting on his body. I look down at his chest, the dark golden hair has grown back, and thick down the middle, fanning out to nothing by the time it reaches his collarbones. I find myself almost reaching out to touch it, wanting to run my fingers through the dense pelt. I wonder if it is soft or crinkly crisp or both. Regular hospital gowns don’t exactly fit him. But he is so warm, that he mostly wears a kind of knit pants, but summer weight, like pajamas. They cling so well to his muscular legs. And when he sits, it cups him so temptingly. I find myself growing hard whenever he casually scratches or adjusts himself. Since he can’t see, I shave him. When I am all done, and am wiping away the last of the shaving cream, I find myself wondering how his lips taste. My heart beats so fast in anticipation before I even see him. My blood flows slow and heavy in my veins. I feel achy and tingly all the time whenever I am near him.

I now know that he stands taller than I do. At 6′ 7″, Will towers over me. His body is strong, built heavily with cords and cords of muscle. His hair is a deep, deep gold, in such a contrast to my own dark brown. His voice is soft and gentle, deep and a little gravelly sometimes from the respirator. The truth is, over the past few weeks, I have fallen hopelessly in love with him. I never thought I would feel this way. It is like a curse. To be granted this wonderful feeling, when I know it is a future that is denied to me. I should spare myself the agony of being near him when I know that my feelings won’t be returned. For a few days, I thought that perhaps, maybe, it could work. That perhaps it would be okay. But as I grew to know Will, it just wasn’t meant to be.

And I did learn so much about Will. He is a firefighter, part of that noble, heroic group of men and women who save lives and prevent a tragedy from becoming catastrophic. He saves people’s lives everyday. He is worried that his knee won’t allow him to get back in shape soon enough. But he shouldn’t. Even with the accident, he is still in amazing physical condition. When I found out what he did, it hurt so badly. When you lose someone close to you, the pain is crippling. But when hope dies, fragile, newborn hope, it is devastating. But I refuse to feel the pain just yet. There will be time later for that. So I still volunteer with the newborns. But now, I just spend more time away from home. And it is good. This is different.

I came to see Will one day, after I spent the night in the ICU. He was practically jumping up and down. I smiled real big, wondering what it was. I knew how scared he was about making it back on the force, I wondered if perhaps some of his crew had come by with good news. That is the best part about my schedule, Will’s friends get him for the day, and I get him at night. But seeing him so giddy, I walked in and grinned and asked what was going on.

“Cory! The bandages come off tomorrow!”

My throat closed up. I breathed out really shaky. “That is wonderful Will.” Each word was bitter coming out of my mouth. I felt the tears sting. It was over. Too soon was all I could think. There wasn’t enough time. But I stomped it down and suggested that he get some sleep, to prepare for the big day.

“Oh Cory, I don’t think I would have made it this far without you.”

I swallowed around the lump in my throat. “I didn’t do much Will. I was just your friend.”

Will stood on his own and walked up to me. He only limped slightly. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me tight. “That is pure bullshit Cory and you know it. But thank you for saying it.”

I watched as Will walked to the bed and lay down, pulling the blankets up his bare chest. I drank in every last bit of him I could. I stood by him, with my hand on his arm until he fell asleep. There I stood for several hours, apologizing silently for abandoning him. I walked away from him and stood for a moment at the door. The tears flowed freely at this point. I silently whispered the words of my heart to him and then left. I drove home and walked straight into the bathroom. I peeled off my shirt and stared straight at my reflection, letting painful memories and harsh words from the past wash over me. I looked my fill until my own reflection blurred, condemning myself because I knew I wasn’t going to be there tomorrow when Will got the bandages removed. His first vision didn’t need to be that of a monster.


I walked through the halls of the hospital. I got rid of that damn walker and was using a cane. It had been two days since they removed my bandages. It was still a little too bright, but I could see. I was so happy at first. I hadn’t realized how terrified I was, thinking that my sight loss might be permanent. But my vision is clear, perhaps only requiring some reading glasses. I looked past the doctor when he peeled away the gauze and I could see. But there was no Cory. I had finally gotten him to tell me what color his hair and eyes were: both a dark brown. I was surprised when he wasn’t there. By the end of the day, I was furious. I was worried about him. I know he volunteers at the hospital, but whenever I asked, no one seemed to know who Cory was. I didn’t even know his last name. It is so damn hard to have people help you find the man you have fallen in love with when you have never laid eyes on him before. But I didn’t find him that day, or the next. They’re releasing me from the hospital in the morning, but I can’t sleep. So I am wandering the halls.

I must have gotten turned around. I was walking along a corridor that was faced on one side with a huge window, like a nursery. But this was unlike any nursery I had ever seen before. There were machines by each of the tiny beds, so many machines. After a moment of staring in shocked pity, I realized that this is where the preemies and sick babies come. I walked a bit further until I noticed someone sitting in the room. He was big. Huge. He sat in this tiny rocking chair with his back to me. He was holding this little, little baby. The baby probably could have fit in the palm of my hand. And this man was stroking its chest, resting the baby in the crook of his elbow. He had dark brown hair that was shaggy, like it had been too long since he had seen a barber, or else cut it himself. I watched in fascination as he switched the baby from one arm to the other with the utmost gentle care. ‘Its Cory’ was all I thought. He is here, on the other side of the glass. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew it was he.

When the baby was resting again in the crook of his other arm, he raised his now free hand and wiped at his face. As the hand left, I noticed the sheen of moisture that clung to his fingers. He wiped them quickly on his pants then raised the hand to the baby. It was then that I noticed the mark on the back of it. I had seen marks like that before. Every firefighter has them, big or small. It is a badge, a talisman. They are the marks of someone who has been burned in a fire. Is that why he wasn’t there? Is that why he hasn’t been by? My anger grew even hotter. How dare he think that I would shun him because he had been burned in a fucking fire! And then I watched as Cory stood. He walked the baby to her crib; her little arms had stopped waving around, obviously asleep. I watched as Cory stretched his arms up, almost hitting the ceiling. His black shirt rode up on his back. There were other scars there, and from the looks of them, bad ones. My anger faded a bit. Cory had been through some horrific fire and even harder healing process from it. He put his arms down and then rolled his neck. And then I watched as he lowered his head to his chest, almost in utter defeat. My rage faded even more, he wasn’t doing so hot either. Hope rose a little in my chest, perhaps he did feel for me, and was just afraid. I moved closer to the glass, wanting him to see me when he turned. I put the best smile I could on, wanting to show him that it didn’t matter. Then I watched as Cory turned. The rest of my anger floated away, unable to be sustained with what I saw.

I watched as Cory blanched at the sight of me. His pale face got even whiter. His eye became round and huge in fear, in the need for flight. And I said eye, because Cory only had one. The other was covered by a patch of leather, smooth and supple, conforming to the contours of this face. Under the patch, extending in both directions up and down was the remains of a jagged, deep, angry scar. It bisected his brow and cut deeply into his cheek, curling slightly towards his mouth. Cory’s shock quickly faded and he spun from me, putting his face in profile, the masked side away from the glass. I stood on the other side of that same glass, filled with love. His fight with the fire had been brutal. But he had won. I placed my hand against the glass, fingers outstretched, pleading with him to join me. I watched as he swallowed hard, closed his eye and took a deep breath. He slowly turned and walked out the door, joining me in the hall. I noticed he was trembling, but he stared directly into my eyes.

I smiled real big at him. “Cory.” My voice was mellowed and husky, thick with emotion.

Cory looked at me, looking resigned and a bit sad. He nodded at me. “Will.”

“I’ve missed you Cory. I looked all over the hospital for you.”

His breath hitched in his chest and he swallowed hard. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. But it was for the best.”

With that he went to move past me. I spun to follow him, shock stealing my voice from me. He was walking away. I took a couple of steps after him, ignoring my cane. My knee gave way and I started to stumble. I cried out as I fell. But I never hit the ground. Cory had caught me, gripping me to him, holding me in his arms. He lifted me so I could stand. He kept his arm around me as he escorted me to my room. As I walked by his side, my nostrils filled with his scent, soap and a slight aftershave, both spicy and subtle. My hand filled itself with the strength of his back, feeling his heat, his warmth. I smiled at the simple contact as we walked the corridors.

When we got back to my room, Cory helped me to bed. I lay down, with my back propped up high, so I was sitting. I slipped out of my robe, hating how hot the hospital feels. I saw Cory flinch and then stare at my chest. The look was hungry. I started getting hard, feeling his desire feed my own. I looked at him, taking my fill of his body, what I hadn’t been able to see before. His legs were long and corded with muscle. His ass was a high, firm, strong confection covered in tight, black denim. His legs strained the fabric. His clothes cupped his sex invitingly. His bulge was mouthwatering. I caught myself, my eyes snapped back to his face. He had controlled his desire. His cheeks were flushed, but he looked straight at me. I knew he was going to leave.

“Cory. Don’t go. Please?”

He shook his head. “Will. Please don’t. Just, go home tomorrow. Start living your life again.” His voice trailed down to almost nothing, so I had to strain to hear it. “Forget about me.”

“I can never forget about you. Never!”

“You must.” The look on his face was so utterly hopeless, incredibly sad.

“But I love you, Cory.”


I honestly never thought I would hear the words. They seemed so foreign to me. I was still reeling from seeing him at the ICU. I had thought that he would have been released the moment he could see. But I was wrong. I never wanted him to see me. I wanted to remain a sweet memory, positive and good. But now here I am, in his room. I just wanted to slip away, go home and shut out the world.

The bandages had hidden beauty. Will’s hair is a golden, curly mass that he had cut short. His eyebrows were thick and dark and expressive. But his eyes. Oh his eyes! They were a deep, deep dark blue. It hurt to look at him. But I did. I forced myself to stare in his eyes. I didn’t know what to say to him. His words made my heart sing. But when he knew the truth….

“Will. It just won’t work. There are things you don’t know. And when you do know. This feeling you have for me will be gone.”

“I don’t believe you Cory. I am sure of my feelings for you. If you don’t love me; if you can look in my eyes and tell me you don’t care for me that is one thing. But just because you got burned in a fire doesn’t mean I don’t know my feelings.”

I looked down at my hand. That scar was minimal. Nothing compared to the others. “It is more than the fire. I killed my mother that night.”

I watched as shock flooded his face. I knew it would be easier to just go. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave him like this. So I started telling him. I felt myself go back, reliving each horrid moment. But I told him everything.

“I was seventeen. Our house was divided into two areas. My three-year-old brother slept in the same area as I did. Our bedrooms were above the garage. It was late and I was asleep. I woke to the smell of smoke. I called the fire department from my room. There was a smoke detector, but it didn’t go off. I got up and ran for my brother. I grabbed him and ran down the stairs and out the front door. I knelt by him at the mailbox. I hugged him up tight and told him to stay. I ran back inside the house, heading for my mother’s room. My baby sister slept in the room next to my parent’s. But the fire was in the hallway, nearest to the bedrooms in the back. I ran as far as I could. I got to my sister’s door. It was never closed, so my mother could hear her. I ran in and grabbed her and crawled out the window. I ran with her to the front of the house, where my brother was. I left my sister with him and ran back. I made it into the house, but the fire had spread to the living room. I knew I couldn’t reach her that way. I turned to go outside, to try and reach her through her window. But something fell on me from above, a rafter or something. It knocked me to the ground. I didn’t feel anything but heaviness against me. I rolled away from it and ran outside. I made it to the bedroom window when the house exploded. The window shattered in front of my face.

“I awoke in the hospital. I floated in and out for what could have been months. I was lying on my stomach. The drugs they pumped into me kept me from focusing on anything. I can’t tell you how much time I was only slightly aware. I only know I was in the hospital for seven weeks before I was released.” I pointed to the patch on my eye. “A part of the window hit me in the face. It took my eye, shredded it. They performed three separate skin grafts on my back. My face was badly damaged. The bones were cut and took a long time to heal. The scar on my face was the best they could do to repair the damage.

“A few days before I was released, I turned eighteen. On that day, I realized that I hadn’t seen my family at all. That day I became aware. I pulled myself out of the haze that the drugs had left me living in. I asked about my family. Two days later, my step-father came to see me.” My breath started hitching and the words became choked. “He had always been happy to see me before. He told me my mother was dead. She had died, long before the explosion, of smoke inhalation. But she was gone.” I turned away from Will, not willing to see him look at me with revulsion. “He told me I had killed her. He yelled at me and told me it was my fault. He kept telling me how I knew how tired my mother was, from taking care of the baby. How she was so tired she couldn’t hear the smoke detectors. He kept telling me if I hadn’t been so lazy, if I had been a better son, if I had been good….

I wiped my face angrily, furious that I was crying. “I hadn’t seen the damage to my face yet. I knew there were bandages, but not what was underneath. The doctor had removed them just before my stepfather came into the room. He looked at me and told me that a monster who would let his mother die would always show his true nature. He left shortly after, moving away from the area and taking my brother and sister with him. I haven’t seen any of them since.”

Now that my story was wound down, I saw things again. I saw the room we were sitting in. I could see the window and the rising sun outside it. I was going to look at Will, just to see his horror, his revulsion. But a doctor and nurse came in first. I stepped away, but didn’t leave the room. I stepped into the connecting bath, to wash my face as they talked to Will.


I sat and listened to every word that Cory said, pain and anger swelling inside me. Pain for what he had gone through and losing a parent so tragically, the pain of recovery, the pain of discovery. But anger was almost a greater emotion. I was furious with Cory’s stepfather. I understood the man’s grief. I had seen it so many times in my profession. But it wasn’t Cory’s fault. It sounded so much like guilt talking. I have a strong suspicion that the batteries in that upstairs smoke detector were dead. It happens so often. But it wasn’t his fault. And those cruel, spiteful words were said at that one moment when Cory needed love and support instead. It explained so much. Why he only visited me at night. Why he volunteered at the hospital. It just made so much sense. I wanted to kiss him, hold him. But the doctors arrived before I could reach out to him. I watched as he moved into the bathroom, thankful that he hadn’t bolted.

Within minutes the paperwork was done and I was released from the hospital. Cory came out of the bathroom just as the wheelchair arrived to take me to the door. I hadn’t known what time I would be leaving, so I didn’t have a ride arranged. I looked up at Cory, and told him we needed to talk and privately. He agreed and walked with me to the door and then I walked to his car. He drove and asked me where I lived. I told him his place was probably closer and suggested we go there to talk. He got kind of uncomfortable, but I insisted. After a couple of minutes, he agreed. He drove downtown, parking across the street from a two-story building, which had a business on the first floor. He led me to a staircase and we climbed up to his apartment. When he opened the door and let me inside, I truly didn’t know what to expect. But what I saw nearly broke my heart. On every wall of his living room, every square inch that wasn’t a window or door was covered in floor to ceiling bookcases. Every shelf was stuffed full of books. Curiosity had me walk further into his home, snooping where I normally would never have. Each room I entered had more and more books. The hall to the kitchen, the dining room, a bedroom and even the hall to the bedrooms all covered with shelves and books. I stepped into his kitchen and saw evidence of a good cook. Fine knives and good cookware, and sitting by the sink was a dish rack. There was one plate. One glass. One fork. All spotlessly clean, but so stark in its solitary place. As I looked around, I saw all the evidence of a man who had no one in his life. There was no one for Cory to love and care for, and no one to care for and love Cory until now.

I took Cory’s hand in mine and led him to the bedroom. The one across the hall was stuffed with books and workout equipment. In Cory’s main bedroom was a queen-sized bed. We’ll have to get a king, but that’s okay. I sat on the edge of the bed and pulled him to sit by me. I looked in his face, so sad to see fear and apprehension crowd his features. He may have been scarred from the fire, but he was still beautiful. I smiled at him. It trembled a bit, but mostly because my emotions were so strong. I lifted my hand and felt horrible because he flinched. But I lay my hand gently against his face, the unscarred side. I stroked his cheek with my thumb and watched as his eye closed and he pressed his face into my hand. I lowered my mouth to his and brushed his lips with mine. I felt his body tremble at the contact of our lips. I slowly deepened the kiss, pushing my tongue into his mouth, coaxing him to touch and taste me. I felt his breathing quicken and his pulse jump. I put one hand behind his head, keeping his lips against mine as I continued to kiss him. My other hand roamed his body, sliding up and down his side, feeling the wealth of muscle and warmth. I moved my hand to his shirt and started unbuttoning it. I slipped each button out of its hole, moving down his chest. As I unclasped each one, I felt the warm, soft skin underneath. His chest was devoid of hair. His muscles clenched and released quickly each time I brushed against his bare skin. I lowered his shirt off of his shoulders, skimming it down his body. I kept kissing Cory, feeling his tongue brush my own as I slowly worked him out of his clothing. I watched him as I kissed him. His eyes were shut, the lashes fanned over his cheek. He was so beautiful to see as his skin flushed from excitement, from arousal.

I unsnapped his pants, pulling the zipper down. As I moved, I felt his erection against my hand, pressed into the soft cotton of his underwear. I was so hard myself. I pushed Cory back onto the bed, following him down, still kissing him. But I wanted to feel him naked against me, so I slowly broke the kiss. I looked down into his face as he slowly opened his eye. I grinned down into his face and he tremulously responded in kind. I touched his muscular chest, feeling his body break out in goose bumps. I rose up and pulled my shirt over my head. Cory reached out, as if to touch my body, but he pulled back. I reached out and took his hand and placed it against my chest. Slowly he started to move his hand over me, feeling the swells of my muscles. He ran his fingers through the hair on my chest. I felt my own body tremble at his touch. I sat still as Cory explored my body. At that moment I realized that he had been alone since the fire and he hadn’t been with anyone before. This would be his first time. Emotion swamped me and I kissed him again. I moved my lips against his over and over, tasting him, becoming lost in the sensual haze that seems to always swamp me when I kiss someone I love. Eventually, I broke the kiss with a loud moan, resting my forehead against Cory’s.

I sat up and finished pulling his pants from him. His erection stood thick and long, straining inside his underwear. I pulled the briefs off him, amazed at what I saw. Cory is probably the biggest man I had ever seen. He was hung and huge. I leaned down and flicked my tongue against the flared underside, just below his head, trailing the tip up to his slit, taking a few drops of his pearly excitement to savor in my mouth. I looked up at his gasp. Cory’s body was trembling hard. I slipped off the rest of my clothes and lay down beside him, half facing him. I placed my hand over his heart and could feel it beating hard. He turned his face towards me, his throat working hard, trying to swallow. I kissed his forehead and placed my hand over his erection. I squeezed him once and then moved my hand forward until the tip was resting in my palm. I watched Cory’s breath hitch in his chest. Then I pulled my hand down his length until my fist reached his balls. I kept up the motion, moving slowly from base to tip, over and over. I watched as his body curled inwards and his head fell back. I could feel his body tensing beneath my hands. Then his shaft thickened and got even harder just before it twitched hard, jerking in my palm. He cried out, hoarse and low, over and over as I watched his semen erupt from him. It went everywhere. I watched as it splattered his chest, pooled on his stomach and coated my hand. Cory’s body slowly calmed. I took my sticky hand and brought it to my mouth, gently tasting its shiny, slick coating. I looked into Cory’s face; he had seen me taste his semen. It was as if some switch was turned on inside him. He grabbed me and started kissing me, deeply, pushing his tongue inside me. I met him in everything he did.

We rolled back and forth on the bed, kissing and stroking the other’s body with our hands. I was so turned on, feeling his cum squish between our chests, being the recipient of so much heat. I cupped his face in my hands and kissed his nose gently, looking in his eye, asking him to fuck me. Cory stopped and told me that he had never done anything like it before. I smiled and nodded that I knew. I moved my legs to either side of his hips, letting him slide between them, pressing his thick, impressive erection to my crack. I reached onto Cory’s chest, seeing a thick glob of semen and took it and lowered my hand, smearing it around my hole. I took his thick shaft in my hands and pointed him to my opening, urging him forward with my other hand on his ass. He pushed against me, slowly, tentatively. I rocked against him, feeling myself part for him. And then he slipped inside me, moving deep, then deeper still. Instinct guided Cory from that point on. He pushed hard into me, and I arched my back in response. That seemed to push Cory over the edge and he started driving into me, hard. He moved in long strokes, pushing as deep as he could go and then pulling almost all the way out. Over and over he drove his big body against mine. It was the most intense experience I have ever had. I kept moving my hips against his, bringing my cock into contact with his belly. I felt his balls slap against my ass. I used my feet, hooked over his thighs, to pull him further into me. I was so horny, it had been a few weeks before my accident since the last time I had been with anyone. I was so hard. I wanted to get off so badly. But I waited, trying to stave off the end as long as possible. I watched Cory’s face. I saw each nuance of his pleasure cross his expressive face. There was so much pleasure and joy in his face, more than I had seen ever before. There was also a huge dose of wonder. This was all new to him. I could tell he was enjoying it, he was moaning and gasping and he kept pulling against my back, just behind my ribs, pulling me closer to him, making our bodies come into sharper contact. He pumped and pushed into me for what seemed like hours but was probably only a few minutes. I felt him get harder and thicker again. I felt his hips get jerky, signaling he was close to release. I pulled harder against his legs, impaling Cory deeply inside me and I let go. I felt my body clasping his to mine and I came. I flooded his belly with my release as wave after wave of exquisite spasms took over my body.

It was many long minutes later that reality began to return. I was aware of a heavy feeling on my chest. I looked down to see Cory’s head nestled on my shoulder, his breathing slowing. He had collapsed against me. I slowly raised my arm, it feeling drugged and sluggish, and placed it against his cheek. But instead of warm stubble, I felt supple leather. I went to pull the patch off, but Cory tensed and grabbed my arm. He rose up onto his arms and I realized he was still buried inside me. I watched as Cory looked down at me and I raised my hand and cupped his face.

“Its okay Cory.”

“But it isn’t.” He lowered his head and I saw some of the same panic flood his features again, felt his body tense. He slowly slipped out of me and I felt lost. But Cory just moved to lie by my side. He brushed his hand on my face, exploring it, smiling slightly. He then moved his hand down and rested it over my heart.

“I love you Will.”

I smiled at him, saying the words back. And with that, Cory reached behind his head and undid the mask.


Will’s hand came up to my face and he followed the jagged scar with his fingers. His touch was so incredibly gentle. I felt my pulse race with each of his motions. He then leaned up to my face and kissed where my eye had once been. My throat was clogged with unshed tears. Emotion thickened my voice as I mumbled his name. I had a hard time breathing as I cupped his face in my hands and brushed my lips against him.

Instantly I got hard again. My mind flashed to the wonder of being inside Will; feeling him grasp me, cling to me, move with me. My cock rubbed against his hairy hip. I rolled on top of his body, just as Will started to pull me. I slipped between his legs, as if this was common practice. I moved against him, feeling him slick with the ejaculate from last time. I slipped inside quickly and easily, pushing hard. Will’s body rose in a great arch and a moan. His hairy front rubbed against my chest as I slipped out of him slightly, only to push back, deeper than before. I kept pulling out then pushing deeper. My hips became automatic in their pumping, grinding pattern.

I felt each bit of Will beneath me. I watched his eyes for his pleasure. I felt his breath hitch beneath my chest. I felt his pulse against many parts of my body. His slick, warm, wet channel sheathed me, clasped me. I ground my big body into his. I looked in his eyes and saw only love. Never revulsion at my unmasked state. My heart soared and my body quickened. I felt the first stirrings of orgasm tighten my belly. My hips convulsed once, twice, three times in hard thrusts. My back arched upwards and my voice became guttural in its deep moans of immense pleasure as i erupted inside Will. I felt more than heard Will release as well. The hot, sticky cum jetted against my belly, coating our bodies in evidence of pleasure. His own ecstasy squeezed my cock, still quaking in aftershocks of pleasure. I found myself still thrusting lightly against Will, long after my own release had stopped. Each little movement of either of us sent churls of pleasure coursing through the both of us, causing us to moan or stretch or arch our bodies. I had been missing this. Now I knew. Now I understood what I had been reading about. This really can start wars, stop armies, create harmony or discord wherever it exists. It really is the most powerful force on Earth. I looked down at Will’s tired but euphoric face and kissed him, sharing with him my newfound knowledge. He met me and we continued to kiss. We drew out the pleasure until our bodies quickened yet again, only to be appeased by another round of lovemaking.

We spent the day and most of the night in an embrace of some form of rapture. And after we had slept, we continued. Day and night; Night and day. Weeks turned into months, months turned into years. Will is still a firefighter and I still volunteer at the hospital, but now, I no longer hide from the eyes of strangers. Let them look. For now I know the look is pity and not revulsion. For I am not a monster, never was. Love proved it to me.

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