How long has it been?
Roughly two months… How long has it felt like?
An eternity in hell. Did I make it?
Did you? …
Thus was the silent conversation of the two pairs of eyes that met once again, separated for so long with the thought of never seeing each other again. But be it the sheer will power through these dark days, or the love that bonded them, that held him alive, he could not say. It was even harder to understand whether he was dead or alive now, walking about the ashes of his own scorched land, his mind nearly erased. A desert full of fire, death and ash, lingering and rolling along with the soft breeze, stuffing his nostrils with the scent of his own corrupt actions.
He looked at him with a soft smile, barely managing it for his muscles refused to cooperate. His entire body thin yet swollen, starved yet still very much functioning, desperately clinging to life. The only life he’d known.
No one knew how he came back, but they knew when the med bay was finally occupied again, a single bed, well kept and tended to. The monotonous beeping of the heart monitor filling the empty halls, day and night. It was slow… alive but just barely. And so was he, deep in his coma, fighting his own shadow for his life. The only life he knew, wanted and refused to give up on.
He was back.
He was thinner, much thinner than before was what Johannes had first thought when he had seen Friedrich in his dire state, that wretched state in those horrible conditions. He couldn’t even speak of the anger that had seized him upon find his husband in such a shape. He couldn’t convey how much it made his heart break to see Friedrich like this. Their body differences had always been a topic to pick on and laugh about and they had jokingly joked about making Friedrich fat and seeing him so deathly skinny made Johannes want to cry and he did.
He cried in his heart and in his whole being. With his withering body in Johannes’ hands he had brought the man back, occupied the space in his lab, his quarters and everything thing that was and would always be their home. He handled him with exquisite care, so careful as if not to break his husband while he tended to him.
Johannes administered slow, small doses that would gently without harming his husband gradually restore him. But he couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing his husband open his eyes again. Though he wished desperately, hoped with all his heart that Friedrich wouldn’t let go. He had faith and that was a lot more than he could say to anyone. His faith and his love.
He was still on leave and so Johannes lived in Friedrich’s quarters as if it were his own, bringing with him some items, things he would need to care for and help him cope. Every day he stayed almost constantly by Friedrich’s side. It had been a few days. Friedrich still hadn’t woken up and now on the night of perhaps the fifth or forth night Johannes sat beside Friedrich’s beside and held his hand with gentle firmness. He pressed his face to the back of the hand, resting in a light slumber. He was back. That was more than he could ask for.
He looked more like a thin carcass out of a nightmare, much like what his patients looked like back during the war. But with an addition of various broken bones and purple bruises, so swollen you could have sworn they were interior growths. He didn’t know when he came back or how. He was barely alive at the time to even open an eye or hear a voice. Let alone feel the hands and gentle embraces. The screams of his captors and the work of the tools that put an end to their lives.
He simply wasn’t there.
But his scenes started coming back to him. One after the other. First he could feel, the tender hands of a figure unknown to him, sewing him closed and wrapping him, patching his wounds both mental and physical. Then he could hear the soft voice, the desperate pleads and cries to be back, to be back among the living again. Until one night he could see again. The bitter pale blue colors of his quarters, accompanied by the sound of a steady slow heart monitor and and a couple of infusion stations. Some spent, others hard at work.
He had wondered who they belonged to and why was he there. Where had the damp dark cellar walls disappeared to. The electric jolts that woke him up day and night. The relentless kicks with a fine black leather boot to his gut to knock him back out. And the stench of his own feces lying around and sometimes even him in them because there was no toilet for him. There was no shower or anything at all. Just the four walls and the darkness.
And now, his hand twitched a little, feeling a certain gentle warmth in his hand, and so he squeezed it, feeling for it as much as his strength allowed him. He’d wondered if he was dead and this was him reborn. Or perhaps dreaming before his death? Or maybe this was his heaven? Or hell. He didn’t know, and it was strange to him. But he didn’t question, turning his gaze as much as it was allowed to him to look at what he felt.
A man, that he couldn’t quite make out without his glasses and in the darkness. He’d wondered who he was, where he’d come from. Or maybe perhaps he’d have an answer to him? An answer? Friedrich wondered why he cared. He must have been dead. That would be the most accurate answer. But it didn’t kill his curiosity as to who the man was. So he’d try again, giving the hand a gentle tug, would felt like a tickle more than that really. But what else could he do?