Monday, September 7, 2015
TLR Chapter 4
Just outside the door to the bedroom where James and Jaxon were carrying on their conversation stood Heath. He had just returned from the class he was teaching along with checking in at his clinic. No new injuries to handle was always a good thing. At six foot four inches tall he usually made a quite presence in any room he entered. Right now, as he stood listening to the two men conversing, with James gently extracting history from their unexpected young guest and his newly acquired patient, Heath’s teeth were clenched and his hands were fisted from anger over the way Jaxon’s stepfather had treated him.
He stepped back when James left the bedroom and came in to the living area of the bungalow after making sure Jaxon was sleeping peacefully. Heath tried to calm down before he said anything.
James pulled the door mostly closed; leaving it opened a crack in case Jaxon needed either of them.
“How’s he doing?” Heath asked James, concern showing on his strong face.
The older man said, "I believe he's doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I'm very glad you came across him when you did last night." He told his friend quietly.
Heath’s face momentarily flushed his eyes sad with guilt at James words. He hoped he’d pushed the feeling down before his friend noticed. "Under the circumstances? You mean being injured or did he open up to you?" Heath asked. He knew people often felt so comfortable with the older man that they would tell him things they might not tell others.
James said, "Let's sit." He indicated the comfortable sofa. As he sat down he waited for his friend to join him.
Heath looked at James. He wanted to tell him just to get on with it, but he knew from past experience that his friend was stubborn. So, he walked over to the sofa and sat down. "I'm sitting. Now, tell me what the boy had to say."
James arched an eyebrow. "Well, from the look on your face when I came out and the way your hands were clenched I'd guess you overheard a good deal of it, but he was mostly concerned that his stepfather may come looking for him and create trouble for us. I told him I'd handled trouble before." James's military bearing came into play as his shoulders straightened and his Marine Corps demeanor kicked in.
"Yes, I'm not worried about that stepfather of his. I'm more worried about Jaxon's stress level. I don't want him worrying and trying to rush his healing. That won't do anyone any good." Heath shared with James.
One thing that the good doctor had learned in his practice here at TLR was the benefit of personal medical care and how beneficial a stress free environment was for an injured or ill person.
James nodded. "You're correct as always. I've tried to reassure him that he's welcome to stay here as long as he needs to and that he needn't worry about his stepfather. He apparently had a young man he was involved with sexually, ‘like two Elks rutting’ is the way he put it."
Heath chuckled at the less than eloquent way of describing a physical relationship but he also knew how youth had an abundance of testosterone. The young doctor shifted, even at his ripe age of 37 testosterone still reared its head. "Well, in some ways that makes our next step easier. Why don't we list him as a guest of yours? No paper trail."
The resort owner smiled. "Sounds perfect to me and I'd like for both of us to keep reassuring him of his safety."
"This bungalow only has one bedroom, but it does have a pull out sofa," Heath said, patting the piece of furniture he was sitting on. "For the time being, I'd like to stay here with him. To keep an eye on his leg and wrist, but also to give him an added sense of security."
The young doctor’s face flushed again and this time James called him on it. “That’s the second time I’ve seen you color up, Heath. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” his friend requested.
Leaning back Heath rested his head on the back of the sofa. He stared at the ceiling for a moment then closed his eyes to gather his thoughts to put them into words. “I never told you how Jaxon got hurt,” the doctor said rubbing his hand across his face.
“No, you didn’t,” James confirmed searching Heath’s face. “I just assumed he got hurt when the canoe sank. Maybe you should tell me what did happen.”
“It was my fault. I startled him and he tried to run but his sock covered feet slipped on the damp leaves and he went down,” Heath explained. “So if I hadn’t spooked him he wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”
James quirked an eyebrow at the young doctor. "Heath, if you hadn't come along when you did, who knows what could have happened to him. Yes, you spooked him, but had he not landed here at the resort, but somewhere else where the black bears are prevalent he may have been mauled to death instead."
"I know you're right, James, but I can't shake the feeling that I did this to him," Heath confessed. He started to push up from the sofa.
James took hold of the young doctor's arm as he rose and said, "Well I know a sure fire way to help you with that Heath." He turned the younger man and landed a sharp swat to the seat of his trousers.
“Hey, I’m not your brat!” Heath snapped at James.
James arched an eyebrow. "There are more where that came from if you need them. I'd suggest that you not snap at me Heath." James said quietly, but with an edge to his voice that brooked no nonsense.
“No, one was more than enough, JW,” the younger man conceded rubbing the sting left by James’s hand. “I guess I had that swat coming. Sorry.”
The older man nodded and smiled at Heath’s use of a name only his closest friends called him. He pulled Heath into a bear hug and patted his back. "It's been tough on you Heath, but blaming yourself for something beyond your control isn't what us Tops do."
“You’re right,” Heath said returning the hug. “My time would be better spent helping our young man recover.”
James smiled. "Now that's more like it Doc."
“I guess even a Top needs a reminder from time to time that some things are just meant to be,” Heath chuckled as he sat back down next to James. “I still want to stay here with him tonight in case he needs anything.”
The resort owner smiled. "You know you're welcome to do whatever seems necessary...he's an interesting young man." He said to his young friend..."I like him."
Heath looked at James. His friend had been single for far too long. Maybe young Jaxon was bringing out more than just protective feelings in him. Heath didn’t know how he felt about that. He'd always held feelings for James but had never acted on them as they were both Tops. Jaxon had brought out some feelings that the young doctor thought had only ever been brought out by a Brat. "You like him? I would feel more comfortable, for at least tonight, if I stay with him. But if you want to stay with him after tonight, I think he would like that."
James, a bit nervous about the unusual feelings he had been experiencing shook his head. "No...No...You're the doctor. I wouldn't know what to do if he needed something in the night that required medical attention."
Laughing, Heath said, "You pick up the phone and call me."
The older man blushed a little. "Umm...yes, of course."
"Why don't we both stay here tonight and if he gets through the night with no problems than you can have the bed to yourself tomorrow night," Heath said. "I think we can share the pull out sofa without attacking each other."
James laughed this time. "I think that's something we can do and I wouldn't mind staying with you tonight and if you think he doesn't really need any real medical attention for the next several days I'll stay with him in case he needs anything during the night. It will be a few weeks before he’s able to be up and about on his own. I’ll at least be here during the nights if he needs anything.”
Heath nodded at James’s words and said, "Why don't you head on over to your house and get what you need. Stop by and talk to Jeff about listing Jaxon as a guest. I’ll get the bed set up." The doctor needed some time to himself to prepare for a night lying beside his friend whom he felt an attraction to. He wanted to make sure James didn't ever suspect how he felt about him.
James placed a hand on Heath's shoulder, even if the doctor was slightly taller than him and smiled. "All right my friend." James kept his feelings for Heath under wraps. After all the doctor was about seventeen years his junior and people might think that odd.
Heath watched as James left to get his things for the night, and then walked to the closet that held the extra bedding. He pulled out what was needed and quickly got the bed prepared. The young man programmed the coffee maker to start perking at 6 in the morning.
Jeff had been sitting at his desk, going over some of the latest applications when there was a knock at the door. He smiled at the sound of the sharp raps. Only one person he knew knocked like that. “Come in,” he called.
Just as he thought, in came James, smiling but obviously distracted
The resort owner entered the office a bit distractedly. His mind was on both what he wanted to speak to Jeff about as well as gathering things up for the night he would be spending in the same bed with Heath.
Jeff stood up and shook the other man's hand. “Come have a seat.” He gestured toward the sofa. "Would you like a cup of coffee? Then you can tell me what's on your mind." He encouraged, grinning. “You look a bit distracted.”
James smiled and nodded, Yes, I am a bit distracted and coffee sounds good. He took a seat on the sofa and waited for his friend to join him.
Jeff knew exactly how James liked his coffee, and fixed it with deft hands. He sat down beside his best and oldest friend, and sipped at his own, hot, black coffee.
James smiled as he took the coffee from his old friend, made exactly the way he liked it, sweet with lots of cream. "Thanks Jeff...this is good." He said as he sipped at the coffee. Then the older man looked up at his friend and began, "Heath and I have an interesting problem...he found a young man camping near the lake and, well, the boy has a dislocated knee and sprained wrist. Heath needs to keep the kid off his feet for a while and he needs a place to stay."
"What is this boy's name? Where did he come from?"
"His name is Jaxon Wilder and he's twenty-years old. His canoe foundered in the water and he washed up on the shore. He was running away from his stepfather."
"Stepfather?" Jeff asked, his radar pinging.
"Yes, a Mr. Gene Thomas. He found out about Jaxon being gay, and had been harassing him, so Jaxon took a few provisions and headed out in his canoe but it sprung a leak and ended up here. Heath thought if he's registered as my guest then there would be no way for anyone to trace him. What do you think? Is that doable?" James asked as he took another sip of his coffee.
“That sounds like an excellent idea. He's old enough to make his own decisions, and I can't see where his stepfather has any legal rights regarding where Jaxon chooses to go. He never legally adopted the boy...?" Jeff let the thought trail off; he knew that James would understand.
James shook his head. "No. And no, the injuries weren't caused by his stepfather." He continued, answering the unasked question that hung in the air. "He apparently hurt himself when Heath startled him. It seems the young man jumped up to take off and slipped on some damp leaves. He was in his stocking feet when it happened and our good doctor was feeling a bit guilty about that.”
"I'll bet he's been beating himself up over it." Jeff replied, a look of concern on his face. "He takes his Hippocratic Oath very seriously, and if he thinks that he was the cause of the kid being hurt...
James shook his head and smiled at Jeff. "Yes, I had to give him a helping hand about that if you get my meaning."
Jeff raised an eyebrow in surprise and amusement. "I'll bet that went over like a ton of bricks." He laughed.
James chuckled as well. "Said he wasn't my brat. But he did realize what he was doing and then told me he deserved it."
"Last I knew he was nobody's brat... or top for that matter. I'm glad you set him straight. He's a good guy, and a good doctor. IF you hadn't done that, he'd still be blaming himself, and he has a patient to worry about now. I'm glad he came to, though.”
James got an odd look in his smoky blue eyes at the mention of top and brat, but nodded at his friend's words. "Yes, I am as well. I wouldn't want him carrying around that kind of guilt for very long."
"And he would have if not for you. Now don't beat yourself up over what you had to do... or do I need to spank you now?" He grinned.
James arched an eyebrow at Jeff and asked, "Is that how you speak to a superior officer, Gunnery Sergeant!?"
"Yes sir Captain!" Jeff replied and saluted James with a grin.
They both laughed at that and James said, "Well my friend, I'm glad that's settled."
“Me too." Jeff replied. "Where will he be staying while he's here?”
“I thought he'd stay in the bungalow near Heath and my quarters. We're planning to stay there together tonight, and then I'll be sleeping on the pull out sofa each night until Jaxon's healed enough to be on his own two feet."
“No problem then JW. We've dealt with harder cases than this in the service.” Jeff replied.
James grinned, remembering their days in the Marine Corps and how they'd dealt with the recruits who had thought they were tough guys. Men like Gene Thomas were bullies, and cowards. They knew how to deal with men like that.
“He'll definitely need down time, and we can give him that." Jeff continued. "It sounds like he’s been through a lot already. I'll get the paperwork together and bring it over to the bungalow for Jaxon to sign... Have Heath nearby to witness, just in case Mr. Thomas wants to claim that we took Jaxon against his will... this way everything will be legal and his stepfather won't have a leg to stand on. With you and Heath nearby, the boy couldn't be in better hands.”
James smiled at his friend. "I knew I could count on you Jeff. Thank you."
"Anything for you, my friend. Let me gather up the papers and I'll meet you there?
James said, "He's already asleep, first thing in the morning will be fine unless it will mess up things for you? If we need to we can wake him.”
“No, don't wake him. One more day won't make that much of a difference. I doubt that the stepfather will find Jaxon any time soon. We definitely want to move fast. We need to get that boy away from the poison he's been living with. So tomorrow morning, first thing after breakfast. Sound good?”
James took another sip of his coffee. "My thoughts exactly." He nodded. "Yes, it sounds fine."
Jeff settled back on the sofa to think for a moment about the situation regarding Jaxon, nodding to himself, realizing all they could do for right now was in place. He asked, “Do you have some time to discuss newcomers now, James? Or do you have to get back to Heath and Jaxon?
James said, “I have a little time. I will have to get back to them soon.”
Jeff looked at his friend and said casually,”So, there's only one bed in that bungalow, isn't there? And you and Heath are both staying... is there anything you want to tell me my friend?” Jeff said with a wicked grin.
James gave his friend a look. He’d just asked him if he had time to talk about newcomers and then he comes up with this. The resort owner shook his head and blushed slightly, clearing his throat. "Now stop that Jeff...it's not my fault there's only a pull out sofa in the bungalow. I thought you wanted to talk about newcomers?"
Jeff grinned. “Well Jaxon is a newcomer isn’t he? Besides…James my man, I can see why you have to share the pull out bed." He said with mock empathy, “That old military cot you used to sleep on weighed a ton didn’t it? I can see how it would be hard for a man your age to carry it to the bungalow to sleep on." Jeff teased. "Maybe I can get Mutt and a couple of the other younger guys to carry it in there for you?" He asked, stressing the word, ‘younger'.
James grinned and punched Jeff in the arm. "Now...who are you calling old?" He arched an eyebrow at Jeff.
Jeff grimaced theatrically and held his arm as though he were in great pain. "Ok, you win... for now. Once I get the feeling back in my arm, it's on Old Man." Jeff quipped
James laughed at his friend and took another sip of his coffee. "You know I wouldn't know what to do without you my friend."
Jeff fought back a blush. He'd been thrilled when James had called him, asking him to help him run the resort. "Ditto." He replied, a private joke between the two of them that dated back to their days in the Marines.
The resort owner smiled at his old friend and continued to sip at his coffee.
Jeff looked at James and snapped his fingers as though just remembering his original question about newcomers and shared, "Oh! We've got those two new guys coming soon, Zay and Elijah! Didn't you want to meet them at the plane?”
James nodded. “Yes, I do.” He smiled and put an arm around his friend's shoulders. "I thank you for all you do." He said, "I think I had better be going though. I don't want Heath to be there without my help if it's needed.
"OK then, I'll make up the packet and meet you all there in the morning. Nine o’clock all right?"
James nodded. "That's fine Jeff. I'll see you then." He stood up and set his empty coffee cup on Jeff's desk. "Thanks for the coffee."
"You're always welcome, my friend."
James gave Jeff a bear hug, patting his back. "In the morning then." He said as he took his leave.
Still smiling, Jeff finished off his own coffee and proceeded to gather up the paperwork he'd need for Jaxon.
After leaving Jeff, James went to his private house and gathered up what he'd need for the night and made his way back to where Jaxon was being housed. He smiled at Heath as he saw him making up the bed and noticed he’d programmed the coffee maker as well.
He teased, "I didn't know doctors were as good at making up beds as nurses were and that they could get coffee ready for the morning."
James put the things he had brought back with him down.
"You'd be surprised what med school teaches us," Heath laughed at James. He continued, "There are extra toothbrushes and toiletries in the closet from housekeeping, so I'm just going to use that and sleep in my shorts." He informed James.
Heath then hurried to the bathroom and took care of his nightly ritual and then coming back into the living room, said, "Bathrooms all free for you."
James smiled and said, "All right, thank you.” He then headed into the bathroom to prepare for bed. He came out in a little bit in his pajamas and smiled at Heath. "Which side of the bed do you want? I thought you might want to be closest to Jaxon."
"Thanks, that works best." Heath climbed into the bed, trying not to look as awkward as he felt. He scolded himself; you've slept with men before! This is purely platonic. Quit making more out of this than what it is. Heath snuggled down and said quietly, "Good-night, James."
James crawled onto his side of the bed and said softly, "Good-night Heath."
As the clock ticked toward midnight, Heath lay awake for a while listening to James's breathing next to him and fought his feelings for the older man. He finally started to drift off.
James had listened to Heath toss and turn and was very glad that around midnight the other man had finally drifted off. He had been tempted to reach out and pull Heath close to him to still his restlessness, but wasn’t sure how he’d react to that comforting gesture, so refrained and finally drifted off to sleep himself.
Jaxon groaned as he woke from his sleep. A nagging pain had been pulling at his dreams and he finally surrendered to it. Once awake, he realized the pain wasn’t from his leg or arm, but his groin. He had to go to the bathroom and he had to go now. Jaxon looked toward the door and listened for sounds from the other room. Heath promised he would be close if Jax needed him. Soft snoring was drifting into the bedroom. He was just about to call out for help when he heard a deeper sound. Jax smiled and knew both men were watching over him.
Not wanting to wake the men, Jaxon drew the covers back and eased his good leg off the mattress until it found the plush carpet. He slowly pushed his braced leg with his good hand until it hung over the side of the mattress too. Biting back the pain and the little gasp that escaped when he put weight on his leg Jaxon slowly inched along the bed until there was only the four feet of open space between him and the bathroom door. He tested his knee as he put his full weight on it. The pain was bearable but he knew this was a bad idea. He leaned against the bed and was just about to call for help when he looked up to see Heath in the doorway with his arms crossed over his bare chest.
Heath had heard the creaking of the bed and Jaxon rustling around so he had stepped in to the bedroom to check on his patient. He was not happy to see this young man he was fast coming to care about more than just as a patient attempting to get out of bed without any assistance. “Did I not make myself clear, Jaxon? I told you that no weight should be put on that leg for at the very least a week.” Heath growled quietly enough that he wouldn’t wake James.
“Yes, sir, you did.” Jaxon answered. A combination of shame and pain in his voice.
“Then may I ask why you are not in bed with your leg up?”
“I need to pee,” Jax snapped.
“I’m in the next room, Boy, why didn’t you call me?”
“I didn’t want to disturb you,” he said. “Look, I’m sorry I didn’t call you. You don’t know how sorry I am because my knee is killing me,” Jaxon groaned. “Can you help me, Heath?”
"Of course I'll help you," the doctor said as he crossed the room. "Here, just put your arm over my shoulder, I'll support your weight." Heath knew being so much taller than Jaxon, that he could support this man with no problem. As they crossed the room, Heath wondered if Jaxon would like more than just physical support. If he was maybe a brat in need of support in life.
Heath bent over and helped Jaxon situate himself. "Just give a hop with your good foot and lean on me when your hurt foot touches the floor."
“Thanks, Doc,” the younger man said but just stood there not sure how to handle things with only one good hand and a bum leg.
Heath calmly and professionally, got Jaxon in front of the toilet. "You can pull yourself out and relieve yourself. I'll keep you balanced.”
Jaxon was embarrassed and hesitated.
Heath knew that most people were uncomfortable with using the bathroom in front of others, and Jaxon was no exception. Heath stretched over and turned on the faucet of the sink. He grinned as Jaxon's body couldn't resist the sound of the running water.
“That was sneaky, Doc,” Jaxon laughed after he relieved himself, “but thanks for the help.”
"No problem. Now let's get your hands washed and you back to bed." Heath helped Jaxon wash his one hand so that the other hand wasn't moved too much.
The doctor then bent down and swooped Jaxon into his arms. At the boy's startled gasp of surprise and look, Heath replied, "This is safer than the hopping you were doing."
Jaxon just smiled and dropped his head to the doctor's shoulder.
As he laid the young man back in the bed, Heath adjusted the covers over Jaxon and said, "You shouldn't have to get up again, but if you find some reason you need to, you just call out. James and I are both just right there."
“I know,” Jaxon confirmed. “The first sounds I heard when I woke up were you and James’ snoring. It made me feel safe.”
Heath smiled down at Jaxon. "Don't worry, Jaxon. You are safe here."
“It’s a good feeling, Heath.” Jaxon yawned. “See you in the morning.”
The doctor turned and went to the pull out sofa. He laid down and soon found himself wrapped in a sleeping James's arms, as the older man pulled Heath to him in his sleep. Yes, he thought to himself, this is a good feeling.