When they reached the hotel they discovered that there had been a mix up with their booking. Instead of a twin room and a single they had been given a double and a single, and the hotel had no other rooms available. It was late and all three were tired so Nick simply accepted the rooms, knowing that they needed to get some rest. Looking over at Stephen he got a small nod of agreement and, picking up their bags, they headed to the elevator. Connor rushed to follow, watching as Stephen leant tiredly against the wall and Nick gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze.

Stephen had come out of their venture worse than anyone. The creature they had been attempting to return through the anomaly had thrown him against a tree and, while the paramedics had declared him fine, Connor suspected he was in quite a bit of pain. He didn't complain, however, abd when they reached their floor lifted his undoubtably heavy bag. Nick took it off him and led the way to their rooms, telling Stephen that the keys were in his pocket. Without a word Stephen reached his hands into Nick's jeans, pulling out the two keys and throwing one to Connor. Accepting the key with a clumsy catch Connor entered his room to find that it was the single. Eyes widening when he realised that Nick and Stephen would be sharing the other room, he headed to check they were alright with that.

Stephen sat shirtless on the bed, Nick kneeling in front of him, the older man's hands skimming over his chest. Connor entered the room without knocking and made a bumbling apology, his cheeks reddening. Nick turned to him in confusion.

"What's wrong Connor?" the professor asked.

"Connor thinks he's seen something he shouldn't have," Stephen raised an eyebrow.

"Oh," Nicks eyes widened in realisation. "I wanted a look at Stephen's ribcage to see how bad it was."
"The docs cleared him," Connor pointed out.

"Don't trust them," Nick shrugged. "Besides they wanted him to go to the hospital and he refused."

"Why?" Connor frowned.

"Don't like hospitals," Stephen shuddered. "I'm gonna go take a shower," he grabbed a towel and entered the en-suite.

Nick waited until he could hear the shower running, "Don't ask him that again, he's had some bad experiences."
"Sorry," Connor apologised. "I didn't think."

"It's alright," Nick smiled. "Did you need something?"

"Oh, um," Connor blushed. "I almost forgot, I just wanted to check you were alright with me taking the single."

Nick nodded, "Yeah, I want to keep and eye on Stephen, I don't think he's feeling as well as he claims."

"Oh, okay, well goodnight," Connor left.

Nick watched the young man leave with a smirk and moved to lock the door behand him. Listening he he heard Connor walk away and headed into the en-suite, removing his shirt as he went. By the time he reached the shower he was naked and he stepped in, wrapping his arms around Stephen's waist to take the soap from the younger man's hand. Stephen leant back against his chest, allowing him to wipe away the dirt, sweat, and blood that had accumulated on the lithe body. He started with Stephen's shoulders, working his way down the younger man's body kissing the skin as he cleaned it.

Finally he grabbed some shampoo and manouvered them so he could tilt Stephen's head under the spray. The younger man let him, murmering quiet sounds of encouragement and pleasure as he massaged the shampoo into the silky strands of Stephen's hair.

When he finally deemed Stephen clean he led the younger man out from under the spray and reached for a towel for each of them. The younger man accepted his with a quiet 'thanks' and began drying. Watching Stephen for several seconds Nick too began towelling off.

Once they were both dry and dressed in boxers they returned to the main room. Stephen glanced over at the door and Nick assured him that it was locked, kissing him gently. He returned the kiss hungrily, trying to move them towards the bed. Nick couldn't help but chuckle and pulled back, taking Stephen's hand in his own, leading his young lover to the bed. Grinning Stephen sat down before scooting to the opposite side and patting the bed invitingly. Accepting the offer Nick sat beside him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Almost subconsciously Stephen leant into the older man's touch with a sigh of contentment.

"How are you feeling Little one?" he knew the nick name would improve his chances of getting an honest answer from the younger man.

"My chest and head hurt," Stephen admitted.

"How bad?" he couldn't hide his concern.

"Not too bad," Stephen yawned. "I mostly just feel tired."

"Ssh," Nick soothed. "Get some rest."

"Will you stay?" Stephen's eyes were drifting closed. "Hold me, please Nicky, I don't want to be on my own."

"Don't worry little one," Stephen smiled at the name. "I'll look after you."

"Love you Nicky," Stephen mumbled.

"I love you too little one," the younger man was already asleep.

Nick moved them so they were lying, Stephen wrapped in a comforting embrace, on the bed properly. The younger man muttered incomprehensively and stirred slightly at the action but didn't wake. An indulgent smile spread its way across Nick's lips as he observed his lover's behaviour. When awake Stephen seemed so stron and alive, bubbling with untapped energy but asleep he looked so: young; innocent; vulnerable; and Nick just wanted to protect him. It was hard sometimes, seeing Stephen during the day - knowing that the persona the young man portrayed was a creation - but at night when he could simply watch his lover sleep or spend time with the 'real' Stephen he felt special, honoured even, that he was privy to that side of the younger man. He loved holding his lover because he knew, despite Stephen's inner-strength, just how fragile the younger man could be. Stephen murmered against him, a small smile forming on kissable lips and Nick had to resist the urge to take advantage of those lips as happiness bubbled up inside him: the younger man had been plagued by nightmares on more than one occasion but Nick's presence seemed to be able to chase the bad dreams away.

"Nicky," Stephen's voice was quiet and laced with sleep, drawing Nick out of his thoughts. "Get some rest."

Before Nick could reply Stephen was already sleeping again. With a quiet sigh he followed the younger man's instructions, closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep. Stephen was safe and the young man's injuries were superficial so Nick was content. All was well for a short time at least.

Fin