Stefan smiled at Zander. "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
"What the fuck.." Zander made to scramble off the bed but his body wasn't as responsive as he would have liked. Dizziness washed over Zander and he felt strong hands pressing him back down again.
"I meant it when I said you need to take it easy," Stefan said sternly.
Zander waited until the room stopped spinning to ask," Why are you helping me? And where are we?"
Stefan laughed. "Welcome to exile."
"Nicely decorated," Zander drawled, sarcastically.
"I'm a Cassadine, I do everything with style."
Zander ran a shaky hand over his face. "Obviously you're alive…but how? I know that Luke Spencer killed you. He bragged about it. And there was a funeral. Your mother showed up."
Stefan sat on the edge of the bed. "You seem to know alot about it. Were you there?"
"Skulking in the shadows," Zander admitted. "Emily was there...I was following her."
"She's not worth the effort you put into her, Zander," Stefan said softly.
Zander nodded. "Yeah…I get that now. But...I still don't get why you're alive. I saw your body."
Stefan shook his head. "You saw *a* body, with my face. Let's just say that it was a very good imitation and leave it at that. You need to rest." He reached out and pressed a hand to Zander's forehead. "You're a bit feverish. I want you to take some aspirin." He rose and headed into the bathroom, returning a moment later with said pills and a glass of water.
"Thanks." Zander took them. He was too tired to argue. "And...thanks for helping me. Although you still haven't explained why."
"We'll talk about it later," Stefan replied. "Sleep." He settled the covers over Zander, took the glass back then headed for the door.
Zander watched him click off the lights then he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
* * * * *
Lucky was inconsolable. He was terrified that something had happened to Zander. The only good thing was that Lansing hadn't found Zander, but maybe that was a bad thing. Lucky missed him so much, it was like a physical ache. He was on the docks, trying to figure out where to look next. Trying not to remember what kissing Zander had been like. Touching him. Sliding deep inside him, because it made him hard and it made him crazy.
He turned to find Courtney standing there. "Hey."
Courtney moved to his side. "You okay?"
Lucky sighed. "Zander Smith is missing."
Courtney frowned. "And that matters to you…why? Last I knew you two weren't exactly friends."
"Things change. We are friends now. More than friends." Lucky realized what he was saying and promptly shut up.
"You love him."
Lucky scowled. "Is it written across my forehead?"
Courtney chuckled. "Close enough. It shows in your eyes." She fell silent for a moment then said, "I know where he is."
* * * * *
Zander developed an infection and a fever. He drifted in and out of delirium. Sometimes he was aware of Stefan's presence. Of soothing hands and cool cloths on his face. Sometimes the hands hurt him and he was shivering as he was held down in a tub of cool water. Other times he felt warmed by a hard body snuggled next to him and hands stroking him until he cried out as his aching body found a pleasurable release. And sometimes Zander wondered if he was only dreaming. Until he woke up to warm kisses and opened his eyes to see Stefan looming over him. Then hands were stroking him and Zander realized he was naked. That his sensitized skin tingled as Stefan's fully clothed body shifted over him. Then he whimpered as a thick finger pressed inside him, fucking him into readiness even as a stiff tongue fucked his mouth, silencing any protests.