His legs in stocks, covered in days of his own filth and rotten fruit, Jared had a hard time feeling grateful that at least his hands were free, allowing him to ward off the worst of it. Left in the public square, he had only known peace at night, his days spent lying on the hard ground while townsfolk pelted him with rotten fruit.
The cover of darkness allowed Stephen to come out, though, his hat down tight around his head, collar turned up. “I’m sorry,” was the only thing he said before he disappeared again. Jared thought about the long hours in the tavern he had spent with the other man, the innuendo, the subtle flirting, eventually getting him out back in the alley. Their compromising position had let Stephen be the one to get away when they were caught. Jared thought about the effort he had put into all that and what Stephen might have lost if their positions had been reversed.
“It’s OK,” he said to the night.