They say time heals all wounds. He has waited sixty years for that to happen. Going on a work trip to Denver rips open that old wound, but maybe that old hotel full of memories is just what he needs to finally be able to move forward.
Denver had changed a lot since the last time he’d been there. It was still a flat city with mountains behind the now much taller buildings, though. Sixty years or there about. That was how long it had been since he’d set foot in Denver.
A smile tugged as he thought of not having gone alone back then. He’d had Alexander Christian, or Xander, with him. They’d been traveling salesmen who worked for the same sales manager, and because their products were so compatible, they stayed close and increased their sales. He’d sold leather journals while Xander had sold ink and fountain pens. Even nibs.
They’d traveled most places by train. All that waiting around had given them plenty of time to talk. And to grow close. Xander had been his lover at the time, and he’d been one of only a handful in the world who knew that Aaron Baker had not been his real name. He’d also known that Aaron Baker was a thousand years old.
Times had changed since then. People rarely used fountain pens or bought leather journals with quality paper suitable for ink, so when Aaron Baker’s timeline ended in nineteen seventy-two, so did that profession. Now he was a traveling IT trouble sniper. The pun made him snort. He hadn’t come up with the phrase—some acne infected teenager with a goofy grin and baggy pants had said that when he’d waltzed in from the street to take care of the store’s broken-down computer system. He’d liked the ring to it, so he’d added it to his website, where he sold his services as a computer expert and unique software developer.
Looking around the streets as he walked from the station, he didn’t recognize much. Not at first. Once his memory filtered out the layers of progress, he began to recognize more and more. If he was correct, then the hotel he and Xander had stayed at had been just down the next street. As he made it to the intersection, he stopped short when the building was still there, and it was still open for business.
He wondered how much it had changed on the inside, because the exterior certainly had a touch-up or two. Back then, it had been a typical hotel for traveling salesmen, but now it seemed the historical aspects were tourist attractions. Having lived as long as he had, it wasn’t a first for him to see such monumental changes incongruously claiming to have stayed authentic.
Once he might even have felt old because he remembered historic buildings not even being there. But not anymore. He barely thought about it. Instead, he viewed his life in eras. Each era had a name attached to it. His current name had never been to Denver. But Aaron Baker had, with his lover Xander, and today he couldn’t shake Xander from his mind.
They’d been alone in the train car on their way there, he suddenly remembered. Xander had sat across from him, grinning that way he did when he’d come up with something stupid.
On a train headed to Denver, March 1956
“I spy with my little eye…”
“What? I’m not playing that,” Aaron said, staring at his silly travel companion.
“Because it’s childish.”
Xander lowered his voice while his eyes darkened a bit with lust.
Oh, man, those baby-blues got to Aaron every time.
“I think I remember you saying you love me because I’m childish sometimes.”
“No, I’m pretty sure I’ve said something along the lines of I love you despite you being childish sometimes.”
Xander sat back, stuck his nose in the clouds, and pouted. Now that Xander had already sent Aaron’s mind on baby-blue eyes, that full lower lip didn’t exactly help take his mind off what he definitely loved about the man.
“I spy with my little eye—”
“No!” Xander pointed at Aaron. “We’re not playing. You said that.” But his eyes twinkled.
“Come on,” Aaron teased. “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with P.”
“Inside or outside this room?”
“Hmm…” Xander stroked his chin. “A protrusion.”
“A what? Where?”
Xander leaned over again. “In my pants.”