Max and Me

by c m

Chapter 16

There isn't much to be said about my next term at Oxford. With it being the 'off' season for hockey, I had more time to myself and I applied myself harder to my work. I also rowed for the first time. The College hockey club formed the College 3rd VIII for the summer bumps races. We called ourselves 'The Penalty Stroke' which everyone thought was terribly witty. That's what comes of naming a boat after a few drinks. During Eights week we splashed our way powerfully, if not very prettily, up the river and held our own – and I could understand why Lucy had spoken so enthusiastically about the feeling of an eight moving through the water.

Dan had finals, so was working all the hours God sent – but that made him even keener, it seemed, to spend the little time he gave himself off in bed with me. I wasn't complaining. The sex we had was fun, uncomplicated and energetic – and I knew I was going to miss him the following year.

Good though sex with Dan was, with only just over a week to go until the end of the term, I was looking forward with growing excitement to seeing Max again. He was going to come over, just like the previous year, for four weeks, at least two of which we were going to spend in Cornwall. There were Just ten days until we were together again – I couldn't wait.

Better still, he had heard that he had been accepted on a program in England for the following year of his English course, and he was going to be based in Oxford. It was like a dream come true.

Term was due to finish the following Friday, but on the Sunday before, I got a message from the Porter to call Berndt Schell. I had a really bad feeling about it. I headed for the phone booth beside the bar, fed the coins in and dialled. The phone rang three times before it was picked up.

"Berndt Schell."

"Mr. Schell – it's Chris Alexander."

"Oh Chris, thank you so much for calling. Now, please do not panic, but Max has disappeared. No-one has seen him for two days. His friend Johannes – who I think you know – said that when he last saw him, all he said was 'there is someone who owes me an apology who wants to meet me. I'll see you tomorrow.' No more details. And now he is gone. I just wondered if you had any idea who he might have meant?"

"No…no I don't. Let me think. If I have any ideas I will call you back. And please – you will let me know as soon as you hear from him? He is meant to be flying here in just over a week."

"Yes of course, Chris. I am sure he is fine and will turn up."

"OK."

And he put the phone down.

I began to think. Someone who owed him an apology? A thought entered my head. Surely not. But it might explain why Max had disappeared. I felt sick. I dialled Berndt's number.

"Berndt Schell."

"It's me, Berndt, Chris. I've just had a thought. I have no idea if it's right – but maybe it's worth checking."

"Please, go on."

This was not going to be easy.

"Berndt, do you know of a boy called Klaus – I don't know his surname - who Max knew at a local boys club. Maybe…two years ago?"

"The name is not familiar. Why?"

"Umm, this is a bit personal but I think it's important. One day I was asking Max about his former partners. You know, for sex. He told me about a boy called Klaus who he had got to know at the boys club and he went to see a film with him. Afterwards, they went back to his flat and Max says he spiked his drink and then was rough with him – pretty much forced him to have sex and wanted to tie him up. Max left and walked home. Does any of this ring a bell?"

I heard Berndt's sharp intake of breath. "I can't believe that this would have happened and that he would have said nothing. But I do remember his mother said he was upset one morning after going to a film, yes."

"Well…I just wondered if this was the boy Max meant who owed him an apology. I am worried he may have contacted Max to say that he wanted to apologise, but actually just wanted to finish what he started before. I may be completely wrong, Berndt, but maybe it is worth just checking?"

"Yes of course. Thank you Chris. I will call the police immediately. I do hope that you are wrong. I will let you know."

After I came off the phone, I had a strong sense of foreboding that I was right. I prayed that I was not. And that if I was then that Max was safe.

The next two days passed at a crawl. Then I had a message to call Berndt again

"Chris, they have found Max. Please stay calm, but you were right. Klaus Muller had him. Max is in hospital but he is alright. Please don't worry, but can you come to Germany? He just keeps asking for you over and over again."

"What happened to him, Berndt?"

There was a long pause. "I think this something we need to talk about in person, Chris. But he is going to be alright, I promise you that. He has been badly mistreated but he is OK. When can you come? Let me know and I will pay for the ticket direct."

"As soon as I can get a flight, Berndt. Tomorrow, I hope."

"OK, good. I hoped you might say that. I have checked. There is a British Airways flight at 10.20 tomorrow morning. I can book this for you if it is possible for you to make it. Don't worry if you do not have your things – we can buy you anything you need when you get here."

"I have my passport, Berndt. Please book the flight – and if you see Max, give him my love and tell him I am coming."

"OK, Chris. That is excellent - and thank you. I will see you at Frankfurt tomorrow."

After I put the phone down, I phoned my parents and told them what had happened. They said that they would come and pick me up in the morning and take me to Heathrow – along with a bag of essentials. Then I talked to my tutor. As my academic obligations for the term were over, he had no problem giving me the OK to miss my last scheduled tutorial.

I didn't sleep that night. I had terrible pictures of what might have happened to Max going through my head. When I looked at myself in the mirror in the morning, I looked awful. I reckoned Max needed to see me looking better than that, so I showered and shaved and had a cup of coffee after which I looked, and felt, a little better.

My parents were there promptly at 7.30. On the journey I repeated what little I knew. They could see how worried I was.

"Just let us know how we can help."

"Thanks, Mum. I'll be in touch as soon as I know more."

They kissed me goodbye and then I was checking in, walking through passport control and into the departure lounge.

The flight was uneventful. I found myself shaking as I went through the arrivals process at Frankfurt. Berndt was there to meet me. He gave me a hug.

"Thank you so much for coming, Chris. We can go straight to the hospital if that is OK."

"Yes, please Berndt. Tell me how he is."

"He needs care and he needs time, Chris. The physical injuries will heal quite fast, but we have no idea if he has psychological damage. That is why the doctors say you are important; he has asked for you constantly."

Physical injuries? Psychological damage? With growing alarm, I asked, "But what happened to him, Berndt?"

"Basically he was abducted, Chris. He went to meet Klaus because Klaus had said that he wanted to apologise for what had happened that time. We are still not sure of the details, but he got Max back to his flat and then held him there."

I could see Berndt was close to tears.

"When the police found him, Max was tied naked to a bed. He had been beaten and assaulted and worse. I am sorry Chris…it is too much for me to say more."

I too was close to tears. My beautiful, wonderful Max had been beaten, and 'assaulted and worse'…whatever that meant.

"It's OK Berndt…I'll talk to the doctors. Thank you for telling me what you have."

We arrived at the hospital and parked. Berndt put an arm round my shoulder as we went up in the lift.

"He is in a private room. I know you are desperate to see him, but you need to talk with the doctors first, OK?"

"OK."

The corridor we stepped out into was warm and quiet. The dividing door hissed open as we approached. A nurse was sat at a desk.

"Herr Schell. And you must be Chris. Please come with me. The doctor is waiting for you."

We went into a side room where a middle-aged man in a white coat was sitting in a comfortable-looking chair.

"I will wait for you outside, Chris. The doctor wants to talk to you on your own.2

Berndt left. The doctor waved me to the seat opposite him.

"Hello Chris. You are Max's…boyfriend?"

"Yes, yes I am."

"Good. OK. We are pleased to see you. We hope that you will help Max relax which will be good for him. And I understand that you are worried, but you must try and relax too; that will be the best way to help Max. So…..physically you will see a young man who has been badly beaten. There are bruises and cuts to his body, legs and genitals, and his face is also bruised - but these are not serious and will heal. But you must be ready for what you see. More serious is that he has been repeatedly and violently raped and an object has been forced into his rectum that created an internal tear."

I could hardly believe what I was hearing.

"OK. Fortunately, the tear was minor – in medical terms - and we have been able to repair it, so there should be no long term damage – although any sort of sexual penetration is out of the question for at least six weeks and probably longer. We have done blood tests and Max is free of any STD and he is HIV negative – both of which are good news. What we cannot tell is if there is any psychological damage; I have to warn you that it highly likely that there will be, but this is where you can help – both Max and us. We need to know if there is any change to his personality or his behaviour – and you must be ready for it if there is. You need to be reassuring and to stay calm. We will need to keep him in here for at least another week. Now…I expect that you would like to see him. He certainly wants to see you."

"Thank you, Doctor. Am I able to stay here?"

"We can make arrangements if that is what Max wants – and of course if you wish it too. Come."

He opened the door and led me down the corridor. We stopped outside one of four rooms. The plaque beside the door read 'Max Schell.' The doctor motioned for me to go in. My heart was in my mouth as I pushed the door handle down and stepped into the room.

Max was lying in bed. His face was better than I had feared, but still badly bruised and he had a black eye. What I could see of his chest was a mass of purple and red, and there was a big dressing on one side. He had heard the door open, and he turned his head.

"Chris! You came…." His voice was cracked, but his smile was as real as ever.

"MAX! Oh Max, Max, Max."

I couldn't help but run to him. I wanted to hug him but I realised that might not be the greatest idea – so I settled for a kiss.

I felt him wince, but he stretched out an arm and pulled my face to his.

"I'm sorry, Chris. I'm so, so sorry."

"Sorry Max? You haven't done anything wrong. Oh Max, I'm so glad you are OK. I was so worried."

"I knew you'd come, my Chris. You told them where to find me. Thank you so much. I told them you would come. Promise me you won't leave me."

"I promise, Max. Is it OK if I hold you?"

"Yes. Yes please. Just gently."

I put my arms around him as gently as I could and we just held each other. Then he started to cry.

"It's OK, Max. It's all OK now. I'm here. Don't worry. Everything is going to be alright."

"He did things to me, Chris. He did things to me that hurt so much. He did things that I think will mean you stop loving me."

I stroked his hair. Tears were running silently down my face too.

"There is nothing he can do – nothing that anyone can do – that will stop me loving you, Max. You are mine. You will always be mine. I will always, always love you."

"You don't know what he did to me, Chris. He put things in me. He put himself in me. He did things that only you should do to me. It was horrible. I was so stupid."

"Max...I love you. Whatever he did, I still love you. You are mine, Max. No-one will ever take you away from me. We belong together and nothing will ever change that. Nothing."

"I was so stupid, Chris. Why did I trust him? He's spoilt everything."

"He's spoilt nothing that matters, Max. Look at me, Max. Look at me."

He slowly lifted his eyes – his bruised eyes – to look at me.

"Do you still love me, Max?"

He nodded.

"And I love you. Does anything else matter?"

He clung on to me so tightly, his tears making my shirt wet, and then slowly, so slowly, his breathing slowed down, the tears stopped, and then he was asleep in my arms. I laid him gently down on the pillow and stroked his hair.

"I love you, Max Schell. Now and for ever. Everything is going to be alright." I kissed him.

As I sat there, holding his hand, Berndt came back into the room along with the doctor. They looked at me.

I smiled at them. "I think it's going to be OK. I can't explain it. I just feel it. But please, can you give me a bed in here. I think it's important to him – and to me – that I am here when he wakes up."

The doctor looked at Berndt. He nodded.

"We will get something arranged." He got up and went out of the room.

"How was he, Chris?"

"He feels he is to blame, I think. But we will work on that. I love him, Berndt – and he still loves me. In the end, that will heal the wounds. I can feel it. I know it. I only wish I could take his pain."

I looked up. I felt stupid.

"I'm sorry…you are his father – you must feel the same."

"I do, Chris. But you are the one he needs now. I know you love him and that he loves you. He told me once that when he met you it was as if there was magic between you. Work your magic now, Chris. Bring him back safe to us."

He came and hugged me.

"You are like a second son to me and Lisl, Chris. If there is anything you need, just ask."

"All I need is for him to be alright."

"Us too. I will see you tomorrow."

About twenty minutes later, a second bed arrived in the room. I asked for it to be put where Max and I could at least hold hands. Then I settled down and opened my book.

Max stirred about an hour later. Not properly awake, he was muttering my name. I went and held his hand.

"I'm here, Max."

He opened his eyes, looked around, and saw me. He smiled.

"You are still here, Chris."

"I'll always be here, Max."

He reached out his arms to me and I went and held him.

"Please, lie beside me."

I had no idea what the protocols were, but sod it; he wanted me to lie beside him, so I was going to lie beside him. It was a tight fit and I needed to avoid hurting him, but we ended up finding a way to hold each other. And we were still holding each other when he fell asleep again.

The mental healing process started the next day when Max was allowed out of bed and we sat on a sofa by the window of his room, cuddled up tight. He put his head on my shoulder and started to tell me exactly what Klaus had done to him. I just let him talk. The doctors had told me that if and when he decided to talk, I should encourage him – that it was an important part of his recovery.

What he told me then and over the next two days was almost too much to bear. He broke into tears sometimes – and it was all I could do not to cry too. He had been horribly violated. Klaus had drugged him – again – and Max had come to to find himself stripped naked and tied to a bed. Klaus had forced him to have oral sex – and when Max had spat his semen out, Klaus had hit him around the face. He had then tied his legs back over his head and repeatedly raped him – without lubrication or protection - over the next three days. He had beaten Max with a split cane that had left welts and cuts all over his chest, his back, his legs and his groin. Then he had forced a series of objects into him, culminating in a massive wooden pole the diameter of Max's forearm that he had driven deep into him – and Max had known he was tearing and could feel the blood wet on his skin. He told me that Klaus had said that when he was finished with him he was going to tie a cord around his balls so tightly that they would die and he would be the eunuch that he deserved to be; that he would no longer be a man, that he would be unable to have sex, and that his boyfriend would desert him.

"But why, Max, why?"

"I think perhaps he is mentally not very well. He had never really forgiven me for walking away from him that night. And then he found out that I had a boyfriend. And then he found out my boyfriend was not even German. He told me that I dishonoured good German boys and that I needed to be punished. That I needed to be reminded of what German boys could give him. He asked me what any other boy had that he did not have. He had sex and violence all mixed up in his head. That is what scared me most, Chris. Not what he was doing to me but the fact that it was all irrational – that there was nothing I could say to reach him, to persuade him to stop."

I squeezed his hand.

"I love you, Max Schell – more than anything in the world."

"How can you, Chris? How? Look at me. You are perfect and I…I am…"

"You are perfect too, Max. You are still perfect on the inside – and the outside will soon heal." I kissed him and stroked his hair, before adding "I mean, you were pretty ugly before this…so a more few bruises don't matter."

Despite himself, he giggled.

"So charming. Sometimes I don't know why I love you."

"But you do, don't you?"

"Yes, my Chris. Oh yes. So much."

We kissed gently but for a long, long time.

And that was it, really. From then on Max just got better. His body soon healed and psychologically he was much less damaged than the doctors had feared. They said it was because he had talked to me – but they still said that as and when we had sex for the first time I should be prepared for Max to find it difficult or impossible to go through with it. And if so, that we would need to think about counselling.

They needn't have worried. On the sixth day, and the day before Max was going to be allowed home, as we were sitting cuddling on the sofa, Max took my hand and put it in his groin.

"Are you sure you're OK with this, Max?"

"I need to find out, my Chris. But I think everything will be OK. And I want you so very much."

And he was right – everything was OK; everything still worked. As I took hold of him I felt him stiffen and lengthen – just like always. I undid my belt and zip and took Max's hand and put it against my hardness. He sighed and slipped his hand inside my briefs, taking hold of me – just like always. I suppose we should have thought about the possibility that someone would walk in – but at that moment I don't think either of us cared very much.

And of course it was slightly embarrassing when the nurse did indeed walk in to find us with our cocks stiffly erect, stroking each other – she blushed, turned on her heel and left. Max and I exploded with laughter - and the doctor later just told me that this was simply a confirmation that Max was making an astonishing recovery.

No-one else had been allowed in to see Max during his stay in hospital, but he had had lots of cards – not least from Hansi. Max was looking forward to seeing him again in particular – and so was I.

The doctors were keen that Max should not be put under any pressure, but the issue of Klaus' upcoming trial could not be ignored completely. Fortunately, so the police informed his parents, he had pleaded guilty to assault, rape and abduction and it looked as though Max would not be put through the ordeal of a hearing. Whilst Klaus would be given credit for his guilty plea, he was still going to be put away for at least ten years – although whether that would be in prison or in a mental institution was still the subject of assessment.

Max's parents came to take us both home after about ten days. On the way back we talked about Max's proposed holiday in England. I thought that his parents would want him to stay at home with them while he recovered fully. But Max was very keen to stick with our original arrangements. To my surprise, Berndt and Lisl agreed. They thought that Max would be best away from the inevitable prying eyes and media who had got hold of the story – and where better than in England with the boy he loved and whom they trusted.

I called my parents to let them know what had been decided – and they were happy as well. They would collect both of us from Heathrow in three days' time.

Once home, Max and I had gone up to his room. I hadn't seen him naked since his ordeal.

"Max – I want to see your body. All of it. Would that be alright?"

"And I want to see yours too, my Chris."

We stripped, and for the first time I could see all the remaining evidence of what Klaus had done to my beautiful Max. Although the wounds had healed, the evidence was still there. The stripes of the cane across his body, the remains of the bruises – now lividly yellow and purple. I ran my fingers gently over his flesh.

"Oh Max. He hurt you so very much, didn't he?"

"Yes, my Chris. But that will soon all be gone. I am here - and you are with me…so what else matters?"

"May I…may I see…"

"Of course."

He turned round and bent over so that I could see his pucker. I was fearing the worst, but to my surprise, there was very little to see. Any swelling and rawness had gone and there was no obvious evidence of the operation that they had performed to repair the damage.

"It is OK to touch it if you want, Chris."

I put my finger very gently against him. I didn't try to enter him – it was enough just to touch him there, in his most intimate part.

"It will not be long before we can have sex again, my lion. I cannot wait - but we must be patient."

"'I will wait for as long as it takes Max. In the meantime….."

He smiled. "Yes, in the meantime we can do other things."

"Right now, I just want to hold you, Max."

We lay on the bed, naked, with Max spread-eagled on top of me and kissed and cuddled. You know the rest. I got hard and then Max got hard and then we took one another in our mouths and brought each other to a shuddering climax.

Sigi and Hansi both wanted to see Max, and we spent a very pleasant day with each of them. They had been told firmly by Max's parents that any questions relating to what had happened were off limits – unless Max chose to tell them. In the end, he just chose to say that the person he had gone to see was mentally ill and that he had had a pretty bad few days until the police had turned up – but that he was better now.

Sigi had trouble restraining himself – I think he had seen some coverage in the local press that had indicated that Max had been tortured - but when he started to say something I just looked at him and shook my head, and to his eternal credit he changed the subject. It seemed to bring him and Max back closer together - which was good.

Hansi was just pleased to see that Max was OK. Max had also told me that I should tell Hansi some, but not all, of what had happened. As I knew he would be, Hansi was completely understanding. I told him that one day Max might want to tell him more, and he was happy to leave it at that, talking instead about dance and his plans for the summer. When he left he gave me a lingering hug and a kiss; Max told us to go and get a room.

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