Once Rick had earned enough money to borrow a book, he went to the small library where he choose a very big book about the royal houses of Europe, hiding the story he had written for Aaron in it. The look on the face of the old man who managed the library and handled the payment, told him the book hadn't left the case in decades. Rick had counted on that; this way, nobody else would find it. Nevertheless, he hadn't used his own name, nor that of Aaron, just to keep them safe.
Rick was actually proud of his plan. He didn't think Moloch would find out about it.
When he told Mateo about the plan, the man had shaken his head, telling him not to do it. Rick hadn't listened to him. His cellmate hadn't been in a good mood anyway; he would probably even growl when someone offered him a piece of cake.
Now, Rick had to tell Aaron about the book. During the meals he was always accompanying Ace, Tommy and Rick himself, but he never spoke a word, nor did he look at them. Which was a shame, for Rick believed Aaron's eyes were very beautiful and often he fantasized what they would look like if they were actually sparkling. He really hoped to see it one day.
At Friday, Rick got an unexpected opportunity. Being the smallest boys, Aaron and he were told to distribute the washed bedding. The new bedding was neatly piled upon a small cart which he pushed forward through the hallway, where by they had to enter all the cells to make the beds.
"Well this is better than filling the washing machines, right?" Rick said. They'd put the cart between two cells. A guard was standing at the other end of the hallway, but he was too far to hear them. He probably wasn't expecting a lot of trouble from them anyway. "It hurts my back. I don't even know why, it's not like it's super heavy or something."
Aaron didn't answer. Quietly, he started to make the beds. Rick heard him gasp when he was pulling the fitted sheet around the corner of the mattress.
"Hey, let me do it."
Aaron pretended not to hear him and kept trying. His face however told Rick in how much pain he was. Carefully, he took Aaron's hand and looked at the bruises and swellings.
"Healing will take much longer if you take no rest."
"It doesn't matter," Aaron muttered. "He will do it again anyway."
His voice sounded so defeated, Rick felt a stab in his stomach. Suddenly he could no longer hold back. He wrapped his arms around the boy and pulled him against his chest. "I'm so sorry for you," he whispered.
Aaron froze. A few seconds passed by, then he tried to push Rick away.
"Don't do that," he said, harder than Rick had heard him speak up to now. "You can't touch me."
"But nobody will know."
"He will know."
His voice was shaking — no, his whole body was shaking. He was so scared, and Rick felt horrible for not being able to help him. Moloch was terrorizing him. Not only by hurting him physically, also be scaring him in such a way that his mind was controlled by fear.
"But how?" Gently, Rick took his hands and caressed his stiff fingers. "He might call himself a god, but he's still human."
He heard Aaron's breathing falter as the boy stared at their hands. Rick wondered when had been the last time that someone had touched him without intending to hurt him. He looked at Aaron's handsome face. His skin was tan, and his eyebrows were beautifully shaped, just like his nose, and his mouth.
He swallowed. It was hard not to softly press his lips against Aaron's.
As if Aaron also feared a kiss, he pulled his hands away and left the cell. That was probably the wisest thing to do; they were in this cell for quite some time. In silence, they continued to make up the beds. They did every bed together, by which Aaron lifted the mattress while Rick put the fitted sheet around it.
"Maybe they will allow us to do this every week," Rick said when they were halfway the cells. "I uhm — I like being around you. Even if — even if you don't talk much."
"You like it?" Aaron's voice sounded hoarse. "You should be terrified."
Rick shook his head. "Some feelings are stronger than fear. Love. Friendship."
"You have no idea what you're talking about."
"Maybe I don't," Rick admitted. "I don't know why you're inside, but I do know you don't deserve what that monster is doing to you. It hurts me to see that no one dares to talk to you."
Aaron looked up. There were tears shining in his eyes. "They have a good reason to ignore me, Rick."
Rick shook his head. "No. They all think they're tough and all, but they are all cowards. I — I know that we have to be careful, but I want to help you. I want to be your friend. Someone who can give you a hug when you feel sad." He bit his lip. "If no one else is around. Like — like now."
Rick looked into his beautiful golden eyes. He saw the hope inside him, and it filled him with an amazing heat. He gave the boy an encouraging smile. "I made something for you," Rick told him. "A present. It's — it's in a book in the library. The one about the royal families of Europe."
Nervously, he hooked his fingers, suddenly afraid that Aaron would find it stupid.
"Umm, okay," was all Aaron answered. His cheeks flushed. "That — that's really sweet. But — but you didn't need to."
"It's a story," Rick told him. "I enjoyed writing it. Especially — especially when I imagined you would read it and like it." He started to blush too. "So you would feel a little less sad."
Aaron swallowed. Quickly, he wiped his eyes with his sleeve. "We have to move on," he muttered. Brusquely, he turned back to the cart and pushed it further ahead the corridor.
The rest of the day, the boy didn't say a single word. Rick was a little disappointed. Would Aaron borrow the book and read his story? Or did he believe it was stupid? His shoulders slumped down. Of course he believed it was stupid. He was raped and abused by his cellmate. A stupid story about a prince and a knight wouldn't make his life any better. Rick even felt ashamed of his attempt to cheer him up. He had promised the boy to help him and all he could think of, was writing that stupid, stupid story.
. . .
Tomorrow was visitor's day. Mateo still hadn't heard from his little brother; he hadn't made an appointment. Mateo had considered to call him, or to reach out to Juan's best friend to make sure he would keep an eye on him. However, he hadn't done it. He wasn't sure why not. Because he wanted to trust Juan in being fine without him? But what if he wasn't? What if there really was something wrong, what then? He couldn't do anything from here. Was he burying his head like a damn ostrich, avoiding any bad news? Was that something he should feel ashamed of? Life inside was so different then life outside; sometimes it was easier to pretend that there was no life outside these walls.
Somewhere on the edge of his conscious he heard Rick's voice. The last thing he wanted right now, was listening to his whining. As much as he wanted to ignore him; somehow he simply couldn't. His ears always tried to identify the sounds he made.
He rolled on his side.
Rick was sitting on the edge of his bed, his feet on the ground, his hands folded as if he was praying. His eyes however were aimed at Mateo's face.
"I distributed the clean bedding today. With Aaron."
Mateo heaved a sigh and laid down on his back again. "Then keep those romantic stories for him."
"I told him I wrote a story for him and that I hid it in a book about the royal families of Europe," Rick continued despite Mateo's words. "But I don't think he will read it. He didn't sound very excited." A sad silence fell. "And now I feel stupid. To think that something so simple would cheer him up."
"I told you it was stupid," he grunted.
"I have to come up with a better idea."
"You gotta leave that kid alone man. He's living in a hell, the last thing he needs is listening to your whinin'."
"I... I didn't want..."
"Can't you just shut your mouth for one fucking night?" he snapped. He had no idea where his sudden frustration was coming from, but it felt like he was drowning in it.
Rick flinched. "I just want to cheer someone up. It — it makes me feel better. You are sad too. Don't think I haven't noticed. You are worried about something."
Mateo hated Rick's sensitivity and his ability to read his mood so quickly. "I'm fine," he said.
"Why don't you let me cheer you up?"
"Because songs and stupid stories won't cheer me up."
"I — I can do something else."
"Like what? Doing a puppet-show?"
"No — something that makes you relax. So that — so that you stop thinking about whatever is bothering you and what makes you so crabby."
"I'm not crabby," Mateo huffed.
"Well you haven't smiled a single time since we met."
Mateo let out a rude curse. "We're in jail, asshole! How many times do I have to tell you!" He got up and sat down across from Rick, giving him an intimidating look.
Rick wasn't as easy to intimate as he thought. "They took our freedom from us. But that doesn't mean we can't find ways to enjoy ourselves."
Mateo stared at him. Enjoy yourselves. In jail. That kid was fucking crazy. Trying to talk some sense into him was a waste of energy. "Well? What do you want to do?" he asked, feeling tired. "Playing games? I'm a very bad loser."
Rick looked at him, his cheeks turning red. By some miracle, he didn't speak. In silence he slipped off the bed until he was kneeling in front of him. His hands glided to Mateo's knees and he pushed them apart.
"You don't have to do that." He tried to push the boy away with his knee.
"But I want to," he said quietly. "Why won't you let me? I — I will make sure you'll like it. Please," he said, looking up to Mateo with pleading eyes. "I like you. I want to do this for you."
The situation was so ridiculous Mateo could only stare at him. He didn't move when Rick positioned himself between his legs again, laying his hands on Mateo's knees and stroking the inside of his thighs.
Mateo hadn't had sex in more than two years. He had masturbated now and then, but he hadn't let anyone touch him. Right now however, he found it hard to find a reason to reject his cellmate, even though he did feel uncomfortable. In silence, he unbuttoned and unzipped his pants. With skilled fingers Rick helped him out of it.
Rick blushed as he looked at Mateo's member. He wasn't rock hard, but a few strokes of Rick's fingertips changed it quickly.
Mateo stared at the boy's face. There was something erotic about the way Rick licked his lips. He felt how his excitement was rising, and that he wanted to feel those lips around him.
And yet, it felt wrong. What kind of life had that young boy led if he offered himself like this to others? But if Mateo rejected him, to whom would he go then? To one of the other guys? Mateo knew he couldn't protect him if he started to offer himself to the men. Even if he would please only one or two others, people like Olav would consider it as an invitation to fuck him.
And what if this would keep Rick from trying something with Aaron? It was better if he was the one on Rick's mind, instead of Moloch's property. Mateo might break his heart one day, but at least he wouldn't end up in a grave — something that was inevitable if he really fell in love with Aaron.
Hesitantly, he bent forward. His fingers slightly touched Rick's jaw to encourage him to start. When the boy leaned closer to kiss his excitement, Mateo's fingers glided through Rick's curls. After leaving kisses all over his length, Ricked looked up to him and smiled.
"Do you like it?" he asked quietly, a hopeful smile on his face.
Mateo said nothing. Somehow he felt ashamed for liking it indeed, for wanting more. He looked away.
Mateo's sexual encounters had always been brief. One night stands. With chicks he'd never seen again. There had been only one girl he'd fucked regularly, but neither of them had wanted to give up their freedom. He had been with whores, with virgins, with students and with women who were ten years older than he was.
But he had never been with a man.
And never with someone he was forced to see every day after.
Rick's fingers glided across him, just like his lips. The moment he felt himself descend in the heat of Rick's mouth, a moan slipped his lips. His eyes shot back to the boy. He had closed his eyes, looking like he'd never tasted anything this delicious. Not hastily, not like a routine. Slowly, intense, is if he was really loving someone.
Mateo's breathing fell, his fingers raking through Rick's dark curls. A tingling sensation awoke in his mid-region. His eyelids drooping while all burdening thoughts left his head.
Mateo felt a shiver race down his spine. A stormy heat followed, and then he started to jolt, grabbing the boy's head while coming undone. Panting, he fell back on the bed, his chest heaving.
It had been so long, so fucking long...
"And?" it sounded a bit insecure. "Did you — did you enjoy it?"
Mateo said nothing.
He felt ashamed.