On Common Ground
They played two games of pool. Stefan kept a careful eye on Zander, taking note that the young man moved slowly and cautiously. He was hurting, but Stefan knew better than to comment on it. For now. The other thing he couldn't help but notice was that Zander Smith was a whiz at pool. He was skilled at making choices and making the shots. He had both a technical and an instinctive brilliance. Stefan didn't mind that he lost both games. But he did mind when he noticed blood on the scrub shirt. He dropped his stick.
Zander waved Stefan away from him. "It's no big deal." Then he swayed on his feet to give lie to his words.
"I'm taking you upstairs." Stefan's tone brooked no argument. He was pleased when Zander simply nodded at him, but worried when he would not accept assistance climbing the stairs. Stefan walked close beside him, to catch him should he stumble. Zander was pale and his eyes were dark with pain and Stefan cursed himself for his stupidity. He should have made the boy go to bed when they first arrived. "This way," he said, pointing down the hallway then guiding Zander to the green room. They entered and Stefan almost pulled Zander over to the bed. "Take off your shirt and lie down," he ordered.
"You're bossy," Zander said. What was meant to be a teasing tone came out hoarse with pain and weariness.
Stefan's expression was grim. He watched Zander try to peel the shirt off and groan with pain. "Wait." He knew there were shears in the bathroom cabinet and he fetched them then cut off the shirt. "Now lie down."
Zander obeyed, stifling a groan. "You don't have to do this. I can…I can take care of it."
"Be quiet." Stefan studied the bandage, it was soaked through. Carefully he peeled it off then he sighed. "You've pulled the stitches."
"I've had worse."
Stefan went into the bathroom and returned with a wet washcloth and a hand towel. He cleaned up the blood then used ointment cream that Dr. Quartermaine had given him. Then he deftly re-bandaged the wound. He cleaned up the supplies then returned with a glass of water. He frowned when he saw that Zander was struggling to sit up. "Rest."
Zander glared at him. "Stop telling me what to do."
"Take your pills." Stefan said that hoping to get a laugh out of Zander, although he was serious. He popped a pain pill and an antibiotic into his hand and held them out along with the glass of water.
"Take them yourself!" Zander shot back, still glaring.
Stefan locked eyes with him. "Take them or I'll force them down your throat."
Zander held Stefan's gaze for a moment then he dropped his eyes and reached for the pills. He popped both at once and swallowed them down with a gulp of water. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Stefan almost smiled at the sarcasm oozing from them both. "You need something to sleep in."
"My boxers will work." Zander replied.
Stefan nodded. "Of course." He found himself not moving as Zander rose from the bed and kicked off his shoes. He watched the boy remove his jeans and socks and caught his breath at the perfection before him. There was a scar or two that marred the boy's smooth skin, but it did not detract from his beauty. The body before him was lean but all sculptured muscle and Stefan felt a stirring in his loins that he'd thought had long died. It had been a long time since he had felt an attraction to another man, especially one who was barely more than a kid.
Zander crawled into bed and closed his eyes. "G'night..." he mumbled.
"Goodnight," Stefan replied, stirred out of his reverie. He realized Zander was already asleep and hadn't even bothered with the covers. So he pulled them over the still form, resisting the urge to touch the smooth flesh. Then he turned to flick off the lights and he knew that he should leave. But instead he moved to the arm chair by the window and settled himself comfortably. To keep vigil over Zander Smith.
© Shelly 2004