On Common Ground
Stefan felt Zander's stiffen, felt his surprise, but the sweet lips parted and Stefan took advantage of the moment. He let his tongue slip inside and it was no surprise to taste mint and coffee. Stefan wanted more. He lifted a hand to tangle his fingers in Zander's hair only to feel himself pushed away. The look on Zander's face brought Stefan back to his senses. "Zander.." he began.
Zander waved a hand to cut him off and rose to his feet. "I think we should go back to the house now," he said, his voice overly calm. "There are some files you need to check over before the meeting tomorrow morning." As he spoke, Zander went to his horse and began undoing the straps so he could fix the saddle.
"You're right," Stefan replied. He knew that Zander was trying to deal with the kiss by pretending it didn't happen. He would allow it, for now. But at some point they would both have to deal with it. "Do you want some help?" Stefan offered.
"I've got it." Zander tightened the straps then mounted. "Ready?"
Stefan nodded. "Lead the way." He watched Zander push his horse into a gallop, then he followed close behind. The wind on his face as they raced along should have made Stefan feel free, but his heart was heavy. He feared he had ruined everything with a single kiss.
* * * * *
The moment they reached the stables, Zander dismounted and stated that he would go in and shower so they could get to work. Stefan simply nodded and watched him go, then he cornered the groom and gave him hell for not cinching the saddle tight enough. He felt guilty after he was done, for the groom did not deserve the tongue lashing he received, especially when it was himself Stefan was so angry at. He entered the house and went to his rooms to shower and change. When he entered the study, Zander was waiting for him with the files he had spoken of. They spent the rest of the day working. At dinner time Zander begged off the meal, ignoring Mrs. Lansbury's clucking that he needed to eat, and locked himself in his room. Stefan left him alone.
It was almost midnight and Stefan was nursing a Brandy, when Zander entered the study. Stefan watched him, saying nothing. A long and heavy silence filled the room, then Zander broke it.
"Why did you kiss me?"
"Because I wanted to." Stefan had no intention of lying about this.
Zander shook his head. "Why?"
Rising from his chair, Stefan moved to face Zander. He could see that the boy was wound tighter than a spring. He could see doubt and confusion glittering in the hazel eyes. "Do you want the truth?" Stefan asked, suddenly wondering if perhaps a lie might be better for them both. But he would give Zander the choice.
"Yeah…I want the truth," Zander replied, without hesitation.
"I'm attracted to you, Zander," Stefan stated.
Zander laughed but the sound faded quickly as he locked eyes with Stefan. "You're serious?"
Stefan nodded. "Very serious."
"I don't get it. How can you be attracted to me? I'm a guy?"
"I've noticed." Stefan was rather hoping for a smile at that. He didn't get one. "Zander...I guess I classify as bi-sexual. I love women but I've been with men before as well. I'm sure this is shocking to you."
Zander shook his head. "No...not that much." He started to pace and ran his fingers through his hair. "Uh...I used to hang around with this group...when I was eighteen. One of the guys was bi. He hit on me one night and I decked him. Then we talked about it and it was cool."
Stefan felt a sense of relief, but it was short-lived. He knew that Zander wasn't ready to deal with this and he was afraid of the emotional damage he might have caused between them. "I'm sorry about the kiss. I overstepped the boundaries between us. It will never happen again."
"Do you want it to?" Zander stopped pacing and turned to face Stefan.
"What do you mean?" Stefan didn't mean to play dumb, but he wanted to make sure he understood exactly what it was Zander was asking.
Zander made a face. "Do you still want...to kiss me?"
Stefan wasn't sure how to answer. But he wanted to be completely honest if he could. "I'm still attracted to you, if that's what you're asking. But like I said...I won't cross over the line again. I promise you that."
"Yeah…okay. Um...you know what? I need to leave for a little while."
Zander nodded. "For a couple of days. I know you're still my guardian and shit, but I can't stay here right now. Okay? I'll still go to my sessions, but I have to get out of here for a while."
Stefan felt a ripple of panic, but he nodded. He thought he understood Zander's need to put distance between them. "That's fine. Where will you stay?"
"Jake's." That said, Zander turned and left the room.
"I'm such a fool," Stefan whispered, to the empty room.
* * * * *
Two days passed. Stefan missed Zander and Mrs. Lansbury made her disapproval well known. Stefan knew she was acting out because she missed having Zander around. He could relate.
It was nearing midnight and Stefan was in the Study, trying to read a financial report, when he heard footsteps. He looked up and was stunned to see Zander entering the room. "You're back." Stefan almost leapt out of his chair.
Zander nodded. "Yeah…this is my home now...right?"
Stefan felt a smile curve his lips. "Yes…it is. Are you all right?"
"I don't know. I'm confused." Zander ran his fingers through his hair.
"Confused about what?" Stefan took a step closer and let his eyes roam over the boy. Zander was wearing jeans, a tee shirt and a leather jacket. He looked beautiful.
Zander sighed. "I'm confused about the kiss, and about how I feel about it. How I feel about you. I love Emily...I'll always love Emily."
Stefan nodded. "I know that."
"And I have never been attracted to another man, not ever."
"I guessed as much," Stefan allowed.
Zander sighed again. "I can't stop thinking about the kiss. And it's messing with me because I can't figure out why I can't stop thinking about it. I love women. I love everything about women. I love having sex with women. But then you kiss me and I'm all fucked up about it. About myself."
Stefan understood. "I'm sorry, Zander." Stefan would have said more but suddenly warm lips were on his and it took a moment for his mind to accept the fact that Zander was kissing him. But his body caught on quick and Stefan's fingers were already curling in Zander's hair as he took control of the kiss. He wanted to taste Zander, he needed this like he needed to breathe. Then Stefan felt Zander break the kiss and he looked at the boy, wondering what would happen next.
"Was that okay?" Zander asked, his voice barely a whisper.
"It was wonderful," Stefan replied. He could see doubt shining in Zander's eyes. Doubt and tears. The boy was a mess of conflicting emotions, but Stefan new what that felt like and he knew of only way to help Zander make the final choice about this. "Let me make love to you," Stefan said softly, holding out one hand. In the aftermath Zander would make his choice. And no matter what happened, Stefan would cherish tonight.
Zander stared at Stefan's hand for a long moment, then he held out his own. Fingers clasped together, they made their way towards the stairs.
© Shelly 2004