Chapter 30

Fielding parked the car and hurried into the hospital to find Vickers arguing with the desk nurse.  “I’m a detective and YOU ARE going to let me back to find out about my BOYFRIEND!”

Fielding walked up beside him and said, “Keep it down Romeo,” flashing his badge at the woman.  “Now let us back!”

The woman grumbled but reached down and pressed the button to unlock the door to her left.  Fielding and Vickers walked back to the Emergency nursing station and Fielding again flashed his badge.  “We’re here to check on a patient who was life-flighted in here.  Knife wound to the wrist….”

“Ryan Phillips,” Vickers added.

“Mr. Phillips is in surgery, his condition is stable,” the woman said looking at the screen.  “They’re working to reconnect most of the nerves and vascular tissue.”

“Have you contacted his next of kin?” Vickers asked.

“No,” the nurse said.  “We didn’t have that information.  But we’ll need it to get some paperwork signed….”

Vickers looked at Fielding and said, “I don’t know much about his relationship with his parents, or their names or anything.”

“The department will have it on file,” Fielding said.  “I’ll call and get the information.  Do you want to make the call?”  Vickers nodded and Fielding took out his phone.  Five minutes later, Fielding handed Vickers a piece of notepaper.

“Who am I calling?” Vickers asked.

“His mother and father,” Fielding said.

Vickers nodded and stepped into a stairwell pulling out his phone.  Vickers dialed the number and closed his eyes, leaning against the wall.

“Hello?” a woman with a soft voice answered.

“Mrs. Phillips?” Vickers asked.

“Yes, can I help you?” she responded.

“Mrs. Phillips, my name is Eric Vickers.  I’m….”

“Oh, yes, you’re the young man who’s been seeing Ryan!  Is everything alright?” she asked, her voice growing more nervous as the recognition that something was amiss hit her.

“Ma’am, Ryan and I were out today and there was an … incident with a violent criminal.  Your son was injured,” Eric said.

“Is he…?” she asked.

“No, ma’am.  He’s at General Hospital and in surgery now,” Vickers answered.  “Critical but stable….”

“Oh, God,” the woman said, beginning to cry.  “I’ll call my husband and we’ll be there as soon as we can?”

“Would you like a police escort?” Vickers asked.

“No,” she said.  “Well, yes, thank you….”

“See you soon,” Vickers said, hanging up.  He found Fielding and asked the man for another favor; Fielding nodded and ordered the escort, before sitting Vickers down and taking his statement.  They were in the middle when a surgeon emerged.  “Ryan Phillips,” he said, looking around.

Vickers was up in a flash asking questions, but the doctor held up his hand.  “You are?”

“I’m,” Vickers began, but Fielding cut him off.

“We’re with the police department.  Ryan is our colleague and friend,” Fielding said.

The doctor looked around and said, “Family not here yet?”

“They’re on their way,” Vickers said.  “I just spoke to his mother half-an-hour ago.”

The man nodded, and said, “Mr. Phillips is going to be alright.  I managed to reconnect most of the nerve and vascular tissue in his wrist.  He’d lost a lot of blood, but we had enough in stock to save his life.  He may need further surgery in the future, but for now he needs to recover.”

“Thank God,” Vickers said, sighing deeply.  “When can I see him?”

“You really need family permission,” the doctor said, but caught Fielding’s frown, and the subtle way the man put his hand on his badge.  “Alright, he’s in a recovery room right now.  He’ll be assigned a room later.  For now I’ll show you the way.”

“I’ll be here,” Fielding said, waving Vickers off.

“Send his parents back when they get here?” Vickers asked, and Fielding nodded.

The doctor escorted Vickers to the door of the recovery room and pointed toward the left side of the room.  Vickers pulled back the curtain around the bed and barely recognized Ryan.  The young man was pale and weak looking, and he was connected to so many machines.  He looked small and alone in the midst of all that equipment.

Vickers dragged a chair over next to the bed by Ryan’s good arm and sat down, placing his head on the edge of the mattress.  He took the young man’s hand in both of his and held it carefully.  “Ryan, I’m so sorry this happened!  I should have listened to you, I should have been more careful!  I’m gonna do whatever I can to make it up to you!”

Leaning in, he kissed Ryan’s hand, his tears falling onto the young man’s soft skin.  He lost track of time and sat in that uncomfortable position until footsteps drew his attention.  He looked over his shoulder and, seeing a couple walking toward him, stood, wiping his face.

“Eric?” the woman asked.

“Mr. and Mrs. Phillips?” Eric asked.  They nodded and he shook hands with them, stepping out of the way.  “The doctor says he’ll be fine, though he may need further operations….”

“Thank God,” Ryan’s mother said.  “Please, call me Julie.  This is my husband, Gordon.”

“How did this happen?” Gordon asked surlily.

“It was my fault.  We were on our way out to spend the day on the lake and I decided to swing by the cabin to check on a lead.  I left the car and … while I was inside with one suspect, the other took Ryan hostage.  He injured Ryan so I’d let him escape.  He knew I couldn’t pursue him and save Ryan both,” Eric spilled his confession.

Gordon frowned at Eric and said, “We’d like some time ALONE with our son….”  Eric nodded sadly and walked back out to the waiting area.

“So that went well?” Fielding asked.

“Yeah,” Vickers snorted bitterly.  “Especially after I explained how I’m to blame for their son’s condition.”

Fielding rolled his eyes.  “You don’t have to tell all the truth all the time!”

“Whatever,” Eric said.  “Let’s finish that statement now, okay?”  So they returned to the task while Eric watched the door for Ryan’s parents to emerge.

***

Andy drove in silence holding hands with Sean, as Sean occasionally peeked into the review mirror.  He caught glimpses of Billy, looking happier than he’d seen him, chatting and laughing quietly with Alan.  Alan was very showy with his affection, putting a hand on Billy’s arm or leg as they talked.  Sean grinned to himself, happy and hoping that things would soon get better for all these boys.

“I’m going to stop by the hospital on the way back to pick Jim and Paul up,” Andy said.

“Won’t Jim want to be there?” Billy asked.

“Yeah, but it’s out of the way, we’ll be back tomorrow, and Carl is going to be fine,” Andy said.  They drove on to the hospital and were walking toward the elevator when they saw a familiar face.

Sean called, “Detective!  Are you looking for us?”

Eric Vickers looked over at them, confused for a moment.  “Oh, hello….  No….”  They could tell something was terribly wrong in an instant.  “I … there was a….”  Eric sighed and took a moment to collect himself.  “It occurred to me where Robert might be hiding today, so Ryan and I drove out to your cabin.  He was there.”

“You caught him?” Billy asked, excited.

“No,” Eric said, looking away.  “Almost.  But he got Ryan.”  Billy winced and Eric continued, “He’s in recovery.  The surgeons think he’ll make a full recovery.  But damned if I’ll ever forgive myself!”

“Detective!” Andy said.  “You shouldn’t talk like that….”

“Why the hell not?” Eric asked.

Andy took his arm and walked him away from the others.  “Do you think he’ll forgive you?”

“Probably,” Eric said with an edge.

“Well, then how do you plan to move forward with your relationship?  He’ll be ready, but you’ll be holding back, punishing yourself!  If this thing between the two of you is something you want, it won’t work unless you can get past this,” Andy said.  “Sean … he held himself back for years, not being able to forgive himself for something that WAS NOT his fault!  Don’t do that to yourself!”

Eric nodded, and said, “Thanks.  I’ll try….”

“We’ll be here a couple of days.  They moved Carl, but come by if you need to get away some,” Andy said.

“Thanks,” Eric replied.  Andy patted him on the shoulder and rejoined his group.

“He going to be alright?” Sean asked.

“I think so,” Andy said as they stepped onto the elevator.  “I think so.”

***

Jonathan had fallen asleep in Jim’s lap, and Paul sat at the opposite end of the couch from them with his feet against Jim’s leg.  He wiggled his toes against the big boy’s firm, muscular thigh, and Jim smiled over at him.  “You’re cute together,” Paul smiled.

Jim grinned and nodded.  “So are you and me!”

Paul blushed and sat up, scooting down the couch to lean into Jim, laying his head on the boy’s shoulder.  “Yes we are!”  They were cuddled up watching television when Edwin got home.

“Thanks guys,” Edwin said as he entered the living room with his bag.  “Too much for him, eh?”

“Not even the smores could keep him awake,” Paul laughed.  Jim stood and Edwin scooped Jonathan up to carry him off to bed.

When Jim sat back down, Paul crawled over a little further so that his upper body draped across Jim’s, and Jim wrapped his strong arms around the boy.  Paul wiggled a bit until he was perfectly snug and then just sighed in contentment.

Edwin returned to find them still like that after about fifteen minutes, having shed his work clothes and dressed in pajama bottoms and a t-shirt.  He smiled at them and said, “You boys sure are comfortable together!”

Paul nodded and ran his hand up Jim’s arm to his hand to squeeze it.  “Jim’s the best!”

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Jim answered.

“Give me a break guys, or I’ll need insulin!” Edwin teased them.

The boys laughed and Paul told him about some of the things that had happened in the year leading up to him and Jim getting together, Jim filling in the occasional gap.  But Paul didn’t leave much out.

“You have been through so much,” Edwin said.  “Both of you….”

“Join the club,” Jim smiled bitterly.

“I’ve got the sweetest little boy, and he’s got a whole family I never knew about,” Edwin said easily.  “We’ll do just fine!”

“And I’ve got Jim, and our friends, and so will I,” Paul smiled, hugging the big arm draped over him.

Jim hugged him tight, then, just as the doorbell rang.  Edwin rose to go answer it and beckoned Andy inside.

Andy just stepped in and said, “I think we’re headed to the hotel!  Long day!”

“Well, thanks guys for looking after Jonathan for me,” Edwin said as Jim and Paul made their way to the door.  Paul made him smile by hugging him, and Jim surprised him by doing the same.

“See you later,” Andy said, smiling at the man, and Edwin locked up behind them.

***

Robert drove under the speed limit through dark back roads leading deeper into the country.  He’d dump the car in the early morning but he wanted to make as much distance as possible before then.  He wasn’t going to be sloppy now, but he was very carefully leaving a trail.  He’d leave the car where it could be found relatively easily, and then they’d travel a bit on foot before acquiring new transportation.  He’d be just careful enough that it wouldn’t be obvious until it was too late.

He looked over at the pretty blond jock asleep in the passenger seat, curled up like a little boy and looking very peaceful, and Robert smiled to himself.  He’d almost lost Connor to the cops that morning and something puzzled him.  He should have slipped away and left the boy to rot in jail; he shouldn’t have risked getting captured himself.  He knew a lot of it was the excitement, and outsmarting that cop gave him a serious rush.  But there was something else too….  He didn’t WANT to leave Connor behind.  He wanted Connor with him.  It was more fun WITH Connor that without him.  Strange.

He reached over and put his hand on the boy’s firm inner thigh and grinned to himself as the boy shivered in his sleep and repositioned himself so now he curled in the other way, leaning into Robert, putting his head on the boy’s shoulder and holding onto Robert’s powerful arm.  He squeezed softly and drove on.  Yeah, he didn’t want to lose Connor.

***

Paul was brushing his teeth when a boxer-clad Jim stepped in behind him and wrapped his strong arms around him.  Paul leaned back against his chest and smiled with frothy lips.  “Let me finish here, dork?”

Jim ran a hand down his chest and patted his belly with a wink.  “Whatever you say, big man!”

Paul laughed as Jim walked into the hotel room and plopped down on the bed with a big bounce.  When Paul emerged, his eyes raked over Jim’s long, built body and he climbed up on the bed next to the boy, stretching out along his side and cuddling into him completely.

“I love you,” Paul purred, nuzzling Jim’s chest.

“I love you too, Paulie,” Jim smiled.   He rolled Paul over on top of him and pulled the boy down into a smoldering kiss.  Jim laughed as he felt Paul thrust his hardening cock into his firm belly.

“Jim,” Paul whispered hungrily, “please?”

Jim ran his hands down the boy’s smooth back and slipped his fingers beneath the tight waistband of his skimpy briefs, grabbing Paul’s bare ass with both hands.  “Oh God, Jim, don’t tease me,” Paul whimpered, begging.

Jim nibbled on Paul’s earlobe and whispered, “I’m not teasing, baby….”  He laughed as he felt Paul hump him harder.  “Slow down….”

“But I’ve been waiting so long,” Paul whined, reaching back to grab Jim’s thick member and tease him.

“We’ve only been together a few weeks!” Jim laughed.

“But I’ve WANTED you for a LONG time!” Paul answered with a big smile.  Then he slithered down Jim’s muscular body, kissing his chest and flicking Jim’s nipple with his tongue.  Jim groaned in pleasure and Paul added, “See, you want it too!”

“That was never in question, beautiful,” Jim answered.  He groaned again as Paul returned to his work with abandon.  Jim then rolled over, pinning Paul to the bed and putting him through his own torture, licking, kissing and caressing Paul’s soft skin.

“That’s so … intense,” Paul moaned.  Then he felt Jim’s fingers at his waistband, as the big boy dragged his underwear down and off, leaving Paul entirely naked.

“You have the most beautiful body,” Jim said, a tone of awe in his voice.

“We’ll have to agree to disagree, then,” Paul responded, gazing up at his lover’s muscular form.  But he gasped and closed his eyes as Jim leaned over and took Paul into his mouth, a first for Paul.  Jim smiled as Paul’s fingers ran through his hair insistently.  Jim gently sucked and bobbed on the boy’s iron-hard rod.  When he pulled off, Paul whimpered incoherently, but his moaning resumed when Jim’s tongue traced down his lightly hairy balls, then tickled his perineum.

Paul grabbed his knees and lifted his ass as he could tell where Jim was heading, and began to call out as he felt Jim’s tongue tickle his untouched hole.  “Oh my GOD!” Paul growled as Jim teased the tight pucker, flicking his tongue across it aggressively.  “More,” he begged.

Jim began gently probing the tight recess with his tongue, as Paul grabbed his head and tried to pull him ever deeper into his ass.  He could feel Paul loosening around his probing tongue and smiled as the boy began to beg, “Fuck me, Jim….  Please?”

Jim knelt over the boy and said, “It’s not too late, Paulie….”

“NOW!” Paul growled fiercely, pulling Jim down into a passionate kiss.  Then he felt the slick head of Jim’s penis slide across his hole and he pressed back, but to no avail.  Jim reached between them and tried to line it up better, but he was inexperienced.  Paul swatted his hand away and grabbed Jim’s rock-hard cock, pressing the head against his hole.  “Now,” he repeated.  Jim pressed in, but was being too gentle, which made the experience torturous.  “Harder!”

Jim finally gave it the pressure required and his head slipped past Paul’s tight ring.  “Ohhhhhh,” Paul moaned.

“Did I hurt you, baby?” Jim asked.

“No,” Paul whispered.  “Yes….”  Feeling Jim begin to pull out, Paul grabbed him tightly and said, “Just give me a minute!  You’re bigger than … I expected.”

Jim couldn’t help but smile and his cock twitched a little at the compliment.  Then he kissed Paul everywhere he could access, cooing comforting words.

“I’m ready,” Paul whispered at last.  “Give me some more….”  Slowly, but with a steady pressure, Jim began feeding his hard shaft into the boy’s tight, hot ass.  Paul was groaning and moaning incoherently, pleasure and pain blending tantalizingly.  When Jim stopped moving, Paul’s eyes fluttered open and he whispered, “Are you all in?”

“I am,” Jim whispered, licking his ear.  “You’re so hot, baby….”

“I need … a … minute,” Paul said weakly.

“Are you okay?” Jim asked.

Paul gave him light kisses on the neck to confirm that he was, though his eyes were closed tight.  “I love you, Jim.”

“I love you too, Paulie,” Jim replied.  Jim propped himself carefully and waited, beginning to move ever so slowly only after Paul’s face began to relax.

“Ahhh,” Paul exhaled, “that’s it, baby….  Slow….”

Jim followed the boy’s direction carefully, kissing his neck and shoulders gently as he ever so gradually picked up the pace.  Paul’s legs, as if following their own mind, wrapped tightly around Jim, as Paul kept the big boy as close as he could.  Putting both hand’s on Jim’s face, he pulled the boy up for a kiss, and he could feel Jim’s excitement in his tightly-wound musclar body.  “I’m not going to last long, Paulie,” Jim whispered.

“Mmmm, okay,” Paul groaned.  “Harder….”  With excited abandon, Jim complied and soon his moans joined Paul’s.

“I’m gonna,” Jim began, moving to pull away, but Paul’s grip on him tightened.

“Don’t,” Paul pleaded.  Jim kissed him fiercely, then, and moments later Paul felt him spasm deep inside.  Paul’s kisses were sweet and fast, anywhere he could reach as Jim’s mind swam from the feelings jolting through him.  When he felt Paul’s hand reach between them, though, he grabbed the boy’s arms and pinned them above his head, grinning weakly.  Then he knelt over the boy and took Paul’s painfully hard cock into his mouth.  Paul grabbed his hair a little roughly and managed about five thrusts before his moans announced the semen that flooded Jim’s mouth.  And then the boys were kissing again, their arms and legs intertwining, full of an unmistakable desire for closeness.

***

Sharing a bed for the second night was less awkward for Billy and Alan.  Alan got into his pajamas and under the covers while Billy showered.  The big, muscular boy sauntered proudly back into the dimly lit room, showing off his body to an appreciative audience.  But when he climbed beneath the sheets, Billy cuddling into the thin, older boy and put his head on Alan’s shoulder, almost submissively.  Alan’s fingers teasing through his hair gave Billy shivers, which in turn made Alan giggle.

“This … is not what I expected,” Alan said.

Billy smiled up at him and asked, “What did you expect?”

“I expected you to take charge, be a super jock,” Alan teased.  “I never hoped you’d be so sweet.”

“I’m trying to learn from my mistakes,” Billy said.  “And there were plenty.  But mostly, I’m just trying to be the real me….”

“I like the real you,” Alan smiled, putting his hand gently on Billy’s arm.

“I told you, I’m gonna be a jerk and try to do a lot of things for you,” Billy laughed, “but I also know that you’re the strong one.  You should know it too.  One of the things I like about you is that you’re someone I could lean on….”

“Metaphorically, of course,” Alan teased, his eyes flickering brightly.

Billy blushed and said, “OF COURSE!”  The boys lay together talking for a long time until they were both getting tired.  Alan was reaching over to turn out the light when he gasped sharply.  “What’s wrong?” Billy asked, concerned.

Alan doubled up in the bed, reaching for his leg, which was cramping up fiercely — a too-familiar side effect of his condition.  The spasms in his legs left them so tightly muscled it was difficult to walk, or even stand sometimes.  “It’s my leg,” he gasped, leaning forward and squeezing the muscle, which was seized up in a rock-hard knot.

Billy asked in a panic, “Is there anything I can do?”

Alan shook his head no fiercely and began to try to work the muscle with his fingers.  Tired of feeling helpless, Billy grabbed Alan’s hands off his leg, feeling for the muscle with his own, much stronger hands.  “Don’t,” Alan said.

“Don’t be stubborn,” Billy snapped.  “I can do THIS for you, better than you can do it for yourself!”

Alan looked embarrassed, both at the situation and at himself, and laid back, submitting.  And powered by his powerful arms, Billy’s big hands began, at length, to relieve the intractable knot, causing Alan to groan.  “Now wasn’t that better?” Billy demanded.

“Yes,” Alan said.  “Very much….  Billy, I’m sorry.  I just … I didn’t want you to think about me like this.”

“Like what?” Billy asked.

“Like a cripple,” Alan said with shame.  “Like a cripple with ugly, horrible legs….”

“Were you going to keep it from me forever?” Billy asked.

“If we lasted that long,” Alan shrugged.  “I was going to try.”

“Alan, there is NOTHING ugly about you!  NOTHING!” Billy insisted, squeezing the young man’s hands gently.

A bit of anger and self-loathing flashed over Alan’s face and he defiantly pulled up his pants legs, revealing the long, desperately thin and tightly bound, which bore little knots and misshapen muscles.  Alan’s face was a mask as he watched Billy, who put a hand on one of his legs and caressed it gently, beginning to work a new muscle.  When he didn’t see any disgust on Billy’s face, Alan began to cry.

“What’s wrong?” Billy asked, removing his hands from the young man’s legs and drawing him into a warm embrace.

“How can you stand that?” Alan cried into his shoulder.  “They’re awful!”

“No,”Billy said gently, “they are not….  Gorgeous?  No.  But you are, and they’re part of what makes you, you.”

“But, I,” Alan began.

“NO!” Billy demanded.  “Until really recently, the way you feel about your legs is the way I felt about myself, everything that’s inside of me!  Paul and Jim and Sean helped me see it might not be as bad as all that….  But you are beautiful, outside and in….”

Alan quaked in his arms and whispered, “Not only is it not as ‘bad as all that,’ Billy….  It’s not bad at all.”  As Alan melted into his embrace, Billy kissed him gently on the neck and settled them both back onto the bed, where they drifted into a peaceful sleep.

***

Fielding picked up his phone and walked out of the waiting area, leaving his friend alone to his thoughts.  Vickers had been banished from Ryan’s room for hours now, and Ryan’s father wouldn’t permit him to enter.  Ryan’s mother brought him the occasional update though.

When Fielding returned, he had a bitter smile on his face.  “They’ve picked up the trail somewhat, Vickers,” he said darkly.  “They’re headed west, and fast.  They abandoned your car at a gas station a ways out.  Found the clerk’s body too….  They’ll get him.”

“No they won’t,” Vickers said.  “This kid is smart, smarter than anyone gave him credit for, because he has one goal and he seeks it relentlessly, Fielding.  He’s probably already three steps ahead.”

“Sheriff Foster in Robertson’s called in the FBI, Vickers,” Fielding said.

Eric sighed, and said, “We should have….”

“I KNOW,” Fielding cut him off.  “What’s done is DONE!  We’ll catch him heading west soon, you’ll see….”

“If there’s one thing I am SURE of, Fielding, it’s that that will not happen,” Vickers said.  He kept to himself his last thought.  Wherever Robert was going, it wasn’t in the west.  “Send them my way first chance you get?”

“Will do!” Fielding said.  “I need to head out of here, get home….  You need ANYTHING, you call me, okay?”

“Thanks Fielding,” Vickers said.  “You’re alright….”

“You’re not as big a jackass as you like to seem, yourself,” Fielding smiled and nodded.

Sitting along, Vickers closed his eyes and drifted off to realistic and fitful terrors.  He jerked awake, hand flying to his holster, when a hand settled on his shoulder.  “Detective….  I’m sorry to have startled you,” Ryan’s mother said softly.

“Any news?” Vickers asked, withdrawing his hand slowly.

“He’s awake, but a bit out of it I’m afraid.  Would you like to see him?” she asked.

“But his father,” Vickers began.

“Ryan won’t stop asking for you.  His father will have to live with it.  Now come on,” she urged.  “He won’t rest until he sees you.”

Vickers followed her uncomfortably down the hall and into the room, where Ryan’s father stood stiffly staring out the window.

“Eric,” Ryan whispered in a weak, but happy voice.  “You’re here….”

“Of course I’m here, Ryan,” Eric whispered, kneeling in close and taking the young man’s hand.  “I’ll be here until you’re able to go home!”

“But Robert,” Ryan whispered.

“The FBI is coming … let them deal with him.  If they can’t do it without me, they’re useless,” Eric said.  “I’m not leaving this hospital until you do!”

“Really?  You’re … dropping the case to be with me?” Ryan asked.

“OF COURSE I AM,” Eric said.

Ryan, clearly a little loopy from the drugs smile and said, “I love you….”

“I love you too,” Eric said, kissing Ryan on the cheek softly.  “Now you get some rest so you can come home!”

“Yes, sir,” Ryan giggled a little.  “Stay with me until I fall asleep?”

Eric kissed him again, this time on the lips, and whispered, “Anything you want.”  Eric watched the young man succumb at last to sleep, before standing to go.

 Eric walked toward the door until he heard Ryan’s father say, “Wait!”  Eric then turned.  “Wait….”

“Mr. Phillips,” Eric began.

“Gordon,” the man responded.  “They tell us that this chair folds out into a bed, that someone can stay in the room with him.  Why don’t you stay the night?  My wife and I can get a room across the way….”

“Are you sure, sir?” Eric asked.

“Eric, I’m sorry….  I was scared, and I blamed you.  But my son clearly has strong feelings for you, and I just want him to be happy,” Gordon said, maintaining his gruff and distant exterior.

“Thank you,” Eric said, averting his eyes.

“We’ll see you in the morning,” Julie, Ryan’s mother, said with a smile and a wink.

“But don’t think this means we aren’t all having a talk about you too,” Gordon added with an arched eyebrow.  “Near death doesn’t get you past a formal grilling by dad.”

“I wouldn’t expect it did,” Eric said, repressing a creeping smile.