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Being alone never felt this good

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Knowing that somebody loves you is the best feeling in the world. Having a special person who is waiting for you to get home. Someone who you trust, with whom you can share thoughts, a laugh, a meal, make and talk about memories with. Otto always thought that he has all these already but after meeting Martin he wasn't so sure anymore. Herr Schelling looked definitely like a ladies man – or so Otto had thought - with his looks, intelligence, and kindness. He had a limp, that's true, but it only made him more approachable. More human. A man who saw the worst of mankind.

Looking back at it, Otto would have never imagined that a few months after meeting a complete stranger a morning like this would come and feel like the most natural thing ever. He had to smile. The smell of tea and bread was filling the air mixed together with the cologne his love prefered.

Otto kept his eyes closed while turning on his back on the bed breathing in the smell. Oh, this smell...

He was home.

Breathing slowly out he could hear careful footsteps getting closer to him. The mattress dipped next to him and a warm, gentle hand nudged him out of his fantasies. Otto tried to make this quiet moment last a little longer. Reaching out blindly he found Martin's waist and curled his arms around him while he put his head on his right leg.

„I like your smell,“ whispered Otto while burying his face into Martin's stomach. Small vibrations ran through the older man's muscles as he chuckled. He patted the younger boy's head, his fingers getting lost in the soft, ungelled hair. It was sticking out in every direction after a good, well-deserved sleep. Slowly, Martin leaned down, the angle making his planned task difficult on many levels, and gave a little kiss on the top of the boy's head.

„Good morning to you, too. It's time to get up.“

Otto hummed. He wasn't ready to start the day yet, the warm bed and even warmer body singing him back to sleep, but duty was calling for all of them. Not even one bandage will change itself.
Collecting all his strength he pushed himself up into a sitting position not noticing how he almost collided with a mug Martin was holding. Luckily, the older man was quick and pulled away his arm just in time.

„Careful,“ he said as he offered the hot drink.

A smile bloomed on Otto's face when he saw „the mug“. His mug. When they first had dinner together Martin had only one mug on the kitchen counter since the other one was unneeded. He had to fish it out of the cupboard and quickly wash it inside and out. Martin was stuttering about not needing it before while Otto just laughed and tried to calm the other, telling him not to think about it. They came a long way since then and the one lonely mug behind the plates now had a permanent place next to Martin's and became Otto's officially.

Accepting the mug Otto wrapped his hands around it and let his palms warm up. It felt nice. Having this little domesticity while the snow was peacefully falling outside. Finally, his dream became a reality. Otto sipped a little of the hot drink, warmth spreading through his chest.

„Thank you,“ he said while stealing a look towards the table. „Did you have breakfast already?“

Martin shook his head. He was the one, usually, who made sure that the younger boy ate regularly. When Otto started to study at the Charité no one has noticed how he skipped most of his meals. Others had asked him to join them but he refused, claiming that he had already eaten. This happened to Martin, too, but after his fourth attempt at a shared meal was again refused he started to watch Otto carefully. And what he noticed made him concerned. There were days when the student ate only lunch or dinner instead of the three meals a person usually has a day. After this discovery, Martin decided on a new tactic. He didn't ask Otto to share a meal, no, he just happened to have two portions with him all the time and whenever the younger boy tried to come up with excuses he gave Otto a look that said: „You have no choice.“

Looking back at it now Martin could actually understand how hard it must have been for Otto to eat anything at all. The boy had to pass his exams with the knowledge that he could be sent to the front to chop off limbs any day without a heads up, he needed to keep an eye on Christel in case she got them into trouble, there was Anni who needed help against her own husband, and, of course, he was scared that their relationship will get discovered and Martin could be sent to a concentration camp to die. There were nightmares in the picture too. Otto once told Martin how he was scared to eat before going to bed in case he had a horrible nightmare because he once woke up and was so nauseous that he almost vomited.

Martin saw horrible things when he was at the front and sometimes he dreamed of the enemy approaching them, or a bomb exploding right in front of him. They had the same effect on him every time he woke up. He understood a little too well what Otto was talking about so he let it go but insisted that the student should eat at least twice a day. The young boy tried to find a good enough excuse to leave the conversation at that.

Martin could still remember how Otto tried to leave the room with only three huge steps, running away from the topic of the conversation, but before he could open the door Martin spoke up.

„We could eat together if that helps.“

After that eating breakfast and lunch together became their „thing“ and not even one soul – Christel did try to join them once or twice but she gave up – demanded any explanation even though Martin would have bet his prosthetic that they were curious about this development. He was sure that these dates, they branded them as such after getting into a real relationship, helped them to grow closer without them ever noticing.

Otto got out of bed while still sipping the warm tea Martin had made for him. They still had more than an hour to get ready for work so there was no need to hurry. He walked to the table where the bread was waiting for them to be cut into neat slices. Otto put down his mug and turned back towards the bed where Martin was still sitting looking out the window deep in his thoughts.

„Is something wrong?“ he asked.


„What's going on in that head of yours? Still asleep?“

Martin shook his head.

„Just a memory.“

Raising one eyebrow in curiosity Otto tried to figure out if Martin was telling the truth. He got better at reading the man's facial expression but when he got roused from thinking his face was always blank. Like he forgot what he was thinking about right there and then.
„Good or bad one?“ Otto asked while looking for butter and jam.

Martin followed the younger boy's movements with his eyes as he hummed. He stood up and walked to Otto's side to help prepare their breakfast.

„Good one,“ he said.

They shared a companionable silence while they worked on the food. Words weren't needed anymore. Both of them were relaxed, they were there for each other while at the same time they had time for themselves. This was the thing Otto liked the most about their relationship. Knowing that you are alone while you're never alone.

A few minutes later they were already sitting at the table with their breakfast and tea ready to be eaten. As usual, they went through their to-do list for the day, talking about what they had to do and when, made things easier, especially now that they had to keep Herr Dohnanyi safe from Doctor De Crinis and nurse Christel.

Otto was the first to finish his food. He got up and quickly kissed Martin on his cheek.

„Danke schön.“

The other man just smiled at him in disbelief, his eyes filled with surprise and amusement.

„You know we made it together, right?“ he asked while looking after Otto who disappeared in the bathroom. There was no immediate answer but after barely a minute the boy reappeared with a toothbrush in his hands, face still a little wet.

„Not everything.“

„It was just tea,“ Martin chuckled.

„Don't make this harder than it is and accept my thanks.“ Otto said this while pointing the toothbrush like the most dangerous weapon towards Martin who couldn't help but play along.

„I am sorry, Captain Marquardt, gratitude accepted.“

Otto looked like the Cheshire cat with his huge grin as he walked back into the bathroom. Martin could hear the water start running. As he finished his breakfast he couldn't help but think about how he loved these mornings. Before meeting the boy every morning meant another day to get through. There were times when he contemplated not leaving the comfort of his bed at all but now that he had this sunshine called Otto in his life he went to sleep on time just to be able to get up before him and make him tea.

And yes, maybe this wasn't such a big deal at all but being able to make Otto smile first thing in the morning was the biggest gift life has ever given him.