CHAPTER FOUR – WANT THIS
“I don’t need a sedative, damnit! I’m fine. Completely and utterly FINE!” Ethan said, crossing his arms imperiously over his chest, just daring the nurse to try and put a needle in him. His only concession to being at the hospital was actually sitting on one of the hospital beds in a private room. He had refused a gown, however, and was still wearing jeans and his favorite blue cashmere sweater. It looked terribly soft and perfectly hugged his slender frame.
Scott found himself grinning at Ethan’s pluck. At that moment, with his gray eyes ablaze with indignation, it was hard to believe that Ethan had collapsed less than an hour ago. Not to mention that just last month he’d been so sick that he couldn’t get out of bed without help, Scott thought. But the new therapy designed by E-Core, the pharmaceutical company owned by Ethan’s father, looked to be working wonders. Ethan was stronger than he’d been in a long time. He was getting better. Until tonight. All his progress might be wiped out because of me. With that thought, Scott’s smile died.
One of the nurses said plaintively, “But your father—”
“I’m eighteen. Eighteen. An adult. I make my own decisions on my medical care,” Ethan pointed out to her. “Doesn’t matter if my father owns this place or not. It’s my decision. And you better not have called him either.”
The blonde nurse’s head lowered and Scott knew that while Ethan may have won the battle over the sedative, he had not won the war.
“Mr. Alric Koenig -- your father is automatically alerted every time you enter any of his medical facilities,” the nurse responded softly.
Ethan gave out a strangled laugh and his dark head fell back against the hospital pillows. “That’s a violation of federal law, you know?”
Scott made a tsking noise and asked, “Yeah, but what are you going to do about it?” He pushed off the hospital room’s wall and sauntered over to Ethan’s bedside. “Sue your old man? He’d just put another chunk of change in your trust fund.”
“It’s the principle, Scott. Remember principles?” Ethan asked. He closed his eyes and the dark circles underneath them stood out lividly against his marble-pale skin.
“In theory. I don’t think I’ve ever practiced them much.” Scott motioned for the nurse to go. She scurried gratefully from the room, electronic clip board tucked under one arm, head down. “You really are a shitty patient. She’s just doing her job. As one of your father’s underlings, it’s not like she has any power,” Scott criticized gently.
“I know. Hospitals make me snarky,” Ethan said with a sigh.
“You’re always snarky. It’s what I like about you,” Scott said.
“Jerk,” Ethan sniped back with a tired smile. Then the smile fled as he said, “He’s going to freak when he finds out about this. I mean as much as my father ever freaks about anything.”
“He’s too German to have a complete meltdown,” Scott agreed, thinking on the almost cold efficiency that Alric Koenig operated under at all times. He seems more like a fucking ice sculpture than a human being unless Ethan’s involved of course. Then he warms up. Maybe a little too much. Scott tamped down the unease and, if he admitted it, the jealousy he felt for how physically and emotionally close Ethan and Alric were. Doesn’t want to ever let his little boy go. In any damned way.
“You should get out of here,” Ethan said, breaking Scott out of his thoughts. “I don’t want Father blaming you for this.”
Scott shook his head, tossing his coat on the visitor’s chair. He pushed up the sleeves of his worn green Henley. He’d been so cold for so long that the hospital felt like a sauna.
“I’m not going to hide from your father. Maybe I need to be chewed out. I should never have taken you to Squeaky’s. We should have been hanging out with beer and bad scifi movies at the Manor. No breaking and entering. No dead bodies,” Scott said as he ran his hands through his spiked hair.
“You would have gone to Squeaky’s on your own and then I would have been the one chewing you out,” Ethan said. “Stop beating yourself up about this. I really am fine. It was just a shock, I guess. That’s all.” Ethan chewed on his lower lip for a minute before saying almost plaintively, “Why can’t you lose it every once in a while instead of me? It would liven things up.”
“I can’t lose it, because I’m a Zen master, don’t you remember?” Scott asked softly as he took in Ethan’s quirked smile; the smile he’d do any crazy thing to elicit.
“Hmmm, well, Zen master, you owe me some ‘in the moment’ time as I recall, don’t you?” Ethan asked.
“Absolutely,” Scott said, wishing desperately that they could be doing that right now: hanging out in Ethan’s bedroom, lounging on his bed with a fire going and some music on low in the background. Then Scott could find out for sure if Ethan wanted to be kissed as badly as it had seemed in Squeaky’s foul bedroom. “As soon as you’re up to it, we’re going to—”
“I’m up to it now. I want to get out of here,” Ethan said and tried to rise.
Scott pushed him back down. The sweater was soft just as Ethan’s muscled chest was hard underneath it. “Just give yourself some time to recuperate.”
Ethan frowned at him, his beautiful, almost elfin features, darkening at Scott’s insistence that he stay in bed. “I’m not staying here.”
“Look, even if you were up to getting out of here, the police would just want to question us. We’re not going to get a hell of a lot of time to ourselves for a little while,” Scott reasoned. He’d expected to be questioned before now, but as soon as the police heard that Alric Koenig’s son was involved they were treated with kid gloves.
Ethan went still, his expression stark. “Have the police called Squeaky’s parents yet?”
“I don’t know. Probably. If they can get a hold of them on their cell phones. Squeaky said something about them doing an around-the-world trip thing. He had no idea where they were at any given time,” Scott said. And when they do find out the news, will they care? Squeaky’s parents were a lot like Scott’s: never there in person nor in spirit.
Ethan was suddenly raking his hands through his jet black hair, trying to smooth it down.
“What are you doing?” Scott asked.
“I don’t want to look like death warmed over when Father gets here,” Ethan explained with a scowl tugging at his full lips. “How do I look? Like shit?”
“Like shit,” Scott agreed.
“Fuck,” Ethan said and thumped back against the pillows. “This is going to be a disaster, I know it. Father won’t let me out of the Manor after this. He’ll probably fasten a collar around my neck with an alarm attached. Any time I try to leave, the hounds will be released.”
“If you can’t get out to come to me, I’ll come to you. Hell, it’ll be like old times. I’ll just sneak into your bedroom like I did after the first time we met,” Scott said, as he sat lightly on the edge of the bed.
“Damn, that’s right, I’d forgotten about that. You scared the living hell of me when you climbed up the Manor’s side wall and knocked on my balcony doors at 2 a.m.,” Ethan said, laughing. “Remember when Jordan came in to wake me up the next morning and you were still there?”
“Oh, yeah. I asked for breakfast in bed,” Scott said. “I think that began his distinct hatred of me.”
“He doesn’t hate you,” Ethan said, rubbing his eyes with one slender hand.
“He thinks I’m a bad influence on you,” Scott said as he resisted the urge to grab one of those slender hands and lace their fingers together.
“Doesn’t matter what he thinks. I like you,” Ethan said with another of those rare brilliant smiles.
Scott warmed inside and ducked his head. “Even if you are grounded -- fuck, grounded at eighteen -- well, even if you are, we can hide out in your room, drink too much Jack and Coke and we’ll talk--”
“About what we’ll do when we grow up?” Ethan asked, a sad smile on his face. “I think we both know I’m not--”
Scott pressed his fingers to Ethan’s lips. So soft. But he shook off where his thoughts wanted to go. “Hey, no defeatist thoughts, remember? Ours is a zone of positivity. You’re doing better. You’re fine. You said it yourself.”
“Right. I’m fine,” Ethan repeated. He stared for a long moment at Scott’s face, like he was memorizing it, before he suddenly looked away and began tugging at his recalcitrant hair again.
“Enough.” Scott did grasp Ethan’s hand this time and linked their fingers together. Ethan did that freezing thing again as soon as Scott touched him. He looked like he was concentrating all of his strength to not react, but his stillness was a dead giveaway that he was feeling something. “You look fine.”
“I thought I looked like shit,” Ethan challenged.
“Damn fine shit then,” Scott teased softly even as he began to trace a circle on the back of Ethan’s hand with his thumb.
In truth, Ethan looked as white as the sheets, but still as achingly beautiful as ever. Scott found himself reaching and running the back of one hand down a fine-boned cheek. Ethan stopped breathing when Scott’s fingers connected with his face and Scott felt a surge of hope in his chest. He hadn’t been wrong that Ethan responded to him earlier. He traced the line of Ethan’s jaw, fascinated at the way the silky skin pinked as he continued to caress it.
“What are you doing?” Ethan asked, his breathing now quickened.
“Do you like what I’m doing?” Scott asked, his voice hoarse.
Ethan didn’t answer. His expression became shadowed. Scott’s hand moved from Ethan’s cheek to his hair, feathering the fine strands against his palm. He leaned forward so that he was only inches from Ethan’s face. Scott had imagined kissing Ethan too many times to count, feeling the heat of the other boy’s breath mix with his own, the sweet taste of those tempting lips again his. Scott always took chances. He was reckless as a rule and, normally, he felt only the thrill of adventure, never the fear of failure. But fear clogged his thoughts now. He was risking their friendship on the hope of something more.
“Do you want this, Ethan?” Scott asked, his voice soft, uncertain.
A noisy throat clearing from behind him made Scott whip around.