The Hot Zone

Chapter 10


Nikolas woke up alone. He felt panic hit him as he glanced about and no sign of Zander. Jumping out of bed, Nikolas yanked his clothes on. "Zander!" He ran into the bathroom and the kitchen. No Zander. Barefoot, Nikolas ran outside, only to stop short as he saw Zander sitting on the porch swing, wrapped in a blanket. "You scared the shit out of me," Nikolas said as he moved to the swing. He shivered in the chilly morning air. "How long have you been out here?"


Zander shrugged. "A while."

"You okay?"


"Probably not," Zander allowed. "I had another nightmare. I didn't want to wake you."

Nikolas sighed. "Wake's okay. I should have heard you anyway. That's my fault." He was angry at himself for sleeping too deeply. Zander could have been in trouble and he wouldn't have known it.

Zander chuckled. "You're really taking this protector thing to heart...aren't you? You're not responsible for me, Nikolas."


"I know that." Nikolas sat down next to Zander and studied him. He looked pale. Nikolas reached out and pressed a hand to his forehead. Still warm. "You need to take your pills."


"Got a pill to make me forget?" Zander asked, pulling away from Nikolas’s touch. He stood up. "I'm gonna go shower."

Nikolas followed him inside. "Take the pills first. Then I'll make us something to eat while you shower."

Zander accepted the pills then he headed into the bathroom.


Nikolas sat down to pull some socks on and the cell phone rang. He listened to Jason, told him Zander seemed to be doing okay, then agreed that they should move on by nightfall. Then Nikolas headed into the kitchen to figure out what to make for breakfast. He didn't know how to cook. He was working on making toast and pouring juice when Zander appeared. Nikolas took note of the fact that he was dressed in layers, yet he still looked cold. "You okay?"


"You going to ask me that all day?" Zander countered, his tone a bit tight.


"Sorry." Nikolas gestured to the table. "Not much to offer. I can't cook."


Zander laughed. "Why does that not surprise me. Do we have eggs and milk?"


Nikolas nodded. "In the fridge. Oh...Jason called, we need to move on tonight."

"Fine." Zander got the eggs and milk then looked for a frying pan. "How do you like your eggs?"


"You cook?"


Zander smirked. "I do eggs and spaghetti. Oh…and macaroni and cheese. Beyond that you're out of luck."


Nikolas laughed and it felt good to that. "Scrambled is good."

"Scrambled it is." Zander set to work.


"What can I do to help?" Nikolas asked.

Zander nodded at the table. "Pass the butter."

After that things went smoothly and a few minutes later they ate. Then Nikolas showered. He and Zander went for walk. They came back and packed up their few belongings, had sandwiches then got in the van. It was time to move on.


* * * * *


A week passed and they stayed in two different houses. Zander healed, physically, but his nightmares got worse and he became withdrawn. He knew it was happening and he didn't know how to stop what he was feeling. He tried to put on a show for Nikolas, but Zander knew he wasn't fooling anyone, least of all himself.


Every night they slept in the same bed. Even when there was more than one. At first they would cuddle together, clothes off, but after the first night of that, Zander felt uncomfortable. He felt too vulnerable. So they wore briefs and tee shirts, then sweat pants. Then Zander didn't want to be held, yet he didn't want to be alone. It helped to have Nikolas beside him when he woke up, screaming, from a nightmare.


They didn't have any sexual contact after that first time either. Zander hated the way he felt. He wanted to get past it. So one night he tried to seduce Nikolas, straddling his lap and feeling Nikolas’s erection. Then Zander had kissed him and eventually he sucked him off, but then he had run into the bathroom to puke, and a hot shower and layers of clothes later he was still shivering and felt sick.


Tonight he couldn't sleep. Zander slid from the bed and headed for the door. It was a warmer night and he sat on the porch. A few minutes later Nikolas joined him. "Sorry I woke you,' Zander said softly.


"I wasn't sleeping anyway," Nikolas replied. "Feel like talking?"


"Not really." Zander didn't know what to talk about. He still didn't understand why Nikolas was here.


Nikolas nodded. "It's weird to be here…you know. To be in this place, in this situation. You and me."


Zander laughed. "Yeah. It kinda freaks me out. We were never friends, Nikolas. But now we're on the run together...which you didn't have to be. And I still can't figure out why. Why are you here?" Zander needed to understand.


"I don't know. I just...I want to be here, Zander." Nikolas sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. "First off…I'm bisexual. I suppose that's not a surprise all things considered of late."


"How long have you" Zander was curious.


Nikolas shrugged. "I guess all my life. I love women but I've been attracted to a few guys.'re the first guy I've ever felt this strongly about. And, for the record, I didn't got to the Hot Zone because of you. I heard about it and wanted to check it out and when I saw you...I couldn't deny what I felt. I wanted it to be just lust...but it wasn't. It isn't."

Zander was stunned by what he was hearing. "Then what is it?"


"I can't really define it, Zander." Nikolas stood up and began to pace. "I became an obsession. I wanted you...I still do."

"You want used goods?" Zander snapped.


Nikolas glared at him. "That's not what you are!"


Zander shook his head. "Bullshit. But hey...whatever floats your boat." He rose to his feet and went to Nikolas, gripping his face in his hands and kissing him.


"What are you doing?" Nikolas asked, pulling back.


"It's called kissing," Zander replied. "Or would you prefer to skip right to the fucking."


Nikolas sighed. "Don't do this, Zander. Don't make this something ugly."


Zander laughed, a bitter sound to his own ears. "You gave up your life to be with me, Nikolas. The least I can do is let you fuck the goods." Zander had more to say but he was silenced by the crack of a palm against his cheek. He stared at Nikolas in disbelief, even as he pressed a hand to his face.

"Oh god!" Nikolas was stunned. "I'm sorry, Zander...I didn't mean..."


"It's okay," Zander whispered.

Nikolas cursed. "It's not okay. Dammit! I never meant to hurt you. I just want you stop hurting yourself. You're not a whore, Zander. You're not. You're a beautiful guy who's been fucked over your entire life. I want to change that. I want to make things better." Nikolas ran out of words to explain what he was feeling, so he used actions. He went to Zander and pulled his hand down so he could kiss the reddened skin. Then he kissed the sweet lips as he wrapped an arm around Zander's slim waist and pulled him to him.


Zander let Nikolas kiss him. He felt a flare of panic but he worked through it. He wanted this to erase what had happened in that room. He wanted this to mean something different. He wanted it...needed be real. So he kissed back, moaning when Nikolas’s tongue entered his mouth. But it tasted him instead of ravishing him. Just as Nikolas’s hands moved over him in warm caresses, not rough groping but soft stroking meant to inflame his passion. And it did that. And Zander could tell that Nikolas wanted him. He could feel the other man's erection pressing against his belly.


"You make me crazy wanting you," Nikolas whispered against Zander's lips.


"I can tell," Zander replied, laughing as he let one hand press over Nikolas’s bulge. "You can have me." Zander kissed Nikolas this time, making the kiss deeper and more aggressive.


Nikolas broke the kiss. "Not out here," he said. He took Zander by the hand and let him back inside. They went into the bedroom and Nikolas pulled Zander's sweat pants off, then the tee shirt he was wearing. Then he let his fingertips brush over Zander's bare chest. "Beautiful."


Zander didn't want slow and easy. He finished undressing, standing naked before Nikolas. Feeling the other man's eyes rove over him. Seeing admiration that warmed him, yet shamed him a bit. He wasn't beautiful or perfect. He was dirty and used up, but at least he was a good fuck. And he could give this to Nikolas for helping him. Zander pushed Nikolas down to sit on the edge of the bed, then he moved between his legs to free his cock. He took the tip into his mouth and suckled, feeling fingers curling in his hair. Gently tugging. Not rough hands gripping him hard. Zander pushed aside the memories to focus on giving Nikolas pleasure. When Zander felt Nikolas close to cumming, he pulled back. "Do you want to fuck me?" he asked, bluntly.


"No," Nikolas replied. "I want to make love to you, Zander. When you're ready. You're not ready yet." Nikolas pushed Zander back so he could stand up, then he pushed Zander down onto the bed on his back. Nikolas then shucked his clothes before climbing onto the bed and positioning himself over Zander so that they were facing opposite ways. Nikolas hoped that Zander would get the hint as he took the tip of Zander's cock into his mouth.


Zander saw Nikolas’s cock dangling over his face and he curled his fingers around it. Then he gripped Nikolas’s hip with the other hand, pulling down so that Nikolas would lower himself and Zander could take his cock into his mouth. Then he moaned around the tip as Nikolas suckled on his cock. Zander had never done this before and it almost amused him that after everything Arroyo had done to him, Nikolas had come up with something new. Something that wasn’t meant to hurt him or humiliate him. So Zander went to work to bring Nikolas off, even as he found release in the other man's mouth.


Nikolas collapsed over Zander after he came. But he lay there only for a moment before shifting around so he could claim a kiss. They could taste each other and that made Nikolas smile. Then he took Zander into his arms. "I could stay like this forever," Nikolas whispered.


"Me too," Zander replied. Even though he knew there was no such thing as forever. But he let himself believe in it for this moment. closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep.


* * * * *


It should have gotten better, but it was worse. Being with Nikolas had just reminded Zander of how dirty and used he was. And the nightmares got worse, becoming too real. Zander would wake up in a cold sweat, aching inside from the abuse he had suffered. Even though his injuries had healed, they still affected him.


He woke up one night to find the bed empty. Zander slipped out of bed and went in search of Nikolas. He was in the living room of their latest safe house, a book draped over his chest, snoring. Zander left him and went into the bathroom. He closed the door and opened the medicine cabinet. He withdrew a razor blade and slid it out of his paper. He held it in his left hand and pressed the sharp edge to his right wrist. It took just a slight pressure as he drew it over his skin, to make the blood well up. Zander closed his eyes and pressed deeper, only to gasp as strong fingers closed over his wrist and yanked his hand away. Zander opened his eyes to find Nikolas glaring at him.

"What the hell are you doing?" Nikolas demanded. He squeezed Zander's wrist until he dropped the razor blade, then Nikolas scooped it up and flushed it down the toilet before grabbing a towel and pressing it over the wound. "What is wrong with you, Zander?" Nikolas was yelling now.


"Leave me alone!" Zander yelled back. His wrist hurt where Nikolas was holding the towel around it and Zander tried to pull away. But Nikolas held fast. "Let go of me!" Zander snarled.


Nikolas shook his head and took a deep breath. "Why are you doing this, Zander? Do you want to die?"


Zander felt tears burn in his eyes. Tears he had fought against for so long. But now they defeated him, sliding down his face. "I'm so tired," he whispered. "I just want this to be over with. I want...I want you to go home, where you belong. If I'm gone you can do that..."


"You idiot." Nikolas was half crying as he pulled Zander into his arms. "I don't want to go home. I want to be with you."

" don't. You don't.." Zander let himself melt against Nikolas, wanting to feel safe and warm. But he still had to tell Nikolas the truth. "You don't know what Arroyo did to me. What he let his guards do to me.."


Nikolas combed his fingers through Zander's hair. "I know enough."

Zander shook his head. " don't. If you did you wouldn't want me."


"Nothing can change how I feel about you, Zander," Nikolas replied. "I know that Arroyo raped you…that the guards raped you. Spin it any way you want, Zander...but that's the truth. The only thing I don't understand is how you got into this in the first place. Why you started dancing at the Hot Zone."


"Alexis," Zander whispered. He wanted Nikolas to know the truth. To understand everything. Then maybe he would wise up and go back home. "She did some work for Sonny that got Roscoe pissed off at her. He wants her dead…and you know she's Sonny promised to protect her if I dance for him."

Nikolas shifted his position so that he was sitting with his back against the wall and he pulled Zander almost into his lap. "Go on. How did you get hooked up with Arroyo?"


Zander used his free hand to wipe the tears off his face. "It started out as just dancing, but then Sonny wanted me to service the clients. He said it was part of our deal. So he made me practice giving blow jobs on him...and Jason. Then it moved on to sex with women, then sex with men. Only it turned out to be just Arroyo. He paid Sonny a small fortune to be the first one to fuck me, then to own me."

"How could Sonny do that to you?"


"I kind of let him."


Nikolas pressed a kiss to Zander's hair. "Because of Alexis."


Zander nodded. It was only partially the truth, but he couldn't tell Nikolas about his father. The secret had to remain a secret. "To save Alexis...I became Sonny's whore and he sold me out."


"But Jason, he saved you."


"He tried…but this isn't being saved, Nikolas." Zander felt himself shaking.


Nikolas hugged Zander to him. "Jason is on the hunt for Arroyo. He'll take care of him and then we can go home."


Zander looked up at Nikolas. "Why won't you go away? I'm all fucked up, Nikolas. Literally…in every way."

"I can't leave you," Nikolas replied. "I love you."

"What?" Zander was stunned. "No...I don't believe that."

Nikolas kissed Zander, just a brush of lips against lips. "That's okay...I'll prove it to you, Zander. I love you and nothing will change how I feel."


Zander couldn't believe what he was hearing. It was too much to absorb. So he simply closed his eyes and let Nikolas hold him. Zander must have drifted off because he woke up in bed, snuggled next to Nikolas, who was snoring. That made Zander smile. He lifted one hand to touch Nikolas’s face and saw the bandage on his wrist. Nikolas was always taking care of him. Zander was about to kiss Nikolas awake when he heard a sound. Fear twisted in his gut and Zander made to move off the bed when he saw them. Men dressed in black. They were on him in a heartbeat, grabbing Zander and hauling him off the bed, doing the same to Nikolas. Then the lights were turned on and Zander blinked as a man approached. The fear in his gut twisted into knots.


"Hello, pretty one," Arroyo purred as he moved to Zander. Then he fisted his hands in the boy's dark hair and kissed him.



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