Luigi woke first. Cody was lying facing away from him. Carefully, so as not to wake the other man, he slipped out from under the covers. As he lifted them off Cody’s body he caught sight of the small square of flesh cut from the other man’s buttocks. His heart ached inside him. It was clear and visible evidence of how much Cody had suffered. Luigi had understood—he had thought that he understood—what Cody had gone through. But understanding another’s pain always involves the imagination. We have to somehow get inside the other person’s head. For the first time, seeing the physical evidence of the horrors Cody had endured, he really grasped just how horrible it must have been.
Luigi only realised he was weeping when he felt the tickle of tears on his cheek. And it came to him all at once that he might fail; that Cody was too damaged in his heart and soul to recover, to love again properly, to ever again be happy.
Fuck that! he thought, suddenly furious. He would do his fucking best. And he would use Keith and Jason as well. Cody would be surrounded with love. He, Luigi d’Alardino, would fight. And he would win. He thought then of his grandmother and knew she would also be an ally. He was not alone. And Cody wasn’t alone either.