Stephen was silent on the drive home from the Forest of Dean. He kept his head bowed and his eyes averted from Nick's shaking figure. He knew his lover was angry, raging in fact, and couldn't help but feel even more guilty than he had before. It was his fault Nick was hurting and he would do anything in his power to take away that pain. Nick stared darkly through the windshield, a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel. Catching sight of Stephen's posture out of the corner of his eye he felt his anger fade slightly, but then he remembered what had upset him in the first place and his anger returned tenfold.

They reached Cutter's house. Getting out of the car he slammed the door and stormed towards the house, Stephen following silently behind him. Patting down his pockets Nick growled in fustration when he failed to find his keys. Not speaking Stephen meekly held out the younger man's set. Glaring he snatched them from his lover's hand, pulling the younger man inside. The door was kicked shut with a loud bang and Stephen's keys were thrown to one side with a clatter as Nick yanked his lover up stairs. Stephen didn't protest, barely looking up as he was all but thrown into the master bedroom.

"Strip," Nick ordered.

Stephen did so without a word. Nimble fingers clumsily tugged at buttons as the young man struggled to do so quickly enough so as not to further anger his lover. His clothes discarded he looked over at Nick, waiting for the professor's next instruction.

"Face down on the bed," he immediately complied.

"Nick," he began.

"Shut up Stephen," Nick growled.

Before Stephen could speak again, Nick entered him with a single quick thrust. No lube. No preparation. Stephen screamed in pain, body tense, hands curling into fists. Cutter ignored his obvious discomfort, still blinded by rage, and began pumping in and out of him at a hard and fast pace. Biting his lip to avoid crying out again, Stephen tasted blood but refrained from saying anything. Soon he felt his blood lessening the burn as it slicked Cutter's passage, the harshness of the older man's penetration having caused tearing. Nick's thrusts became harder and less controlled as he reached his climax and he bit down hard enough to draw blood on Stephen's shoulder, causing the younger man to cry out again, as he came.

Nick pulled out of Stephen, rolling to one side. Silently Stephen slipped from the bed, heading for the en-suite. Seeing the blood trickling down the younger man's thighs Nick immediately felt guilty and sick - how could he have done that to his lover? Hearing the shower start he grabbed the bed sheets, quickly changing them, before running to the second bathroom. Hurriedly showering he pulled on a pair of boxers and rummaged in the medicine cabinet for some anti-biotic cream. He returned to the bedroom, tube in hand.

Stephen was exiting the en-suite at his return, a towel wrapped around the younger man's waist. He made it half way across the room before his legs buckled from under him and he fell, silent tears streaming down his face. Nick rushed to his side, sitting on the floor and pulling the younger man into his lap, rocking him gently. Head burying in Nick's shoulder Stephen sobbed.

"I'm sorry, so so sorry," he cried.

"Shh, Stephen, it's alright," Nick soothed. "I shouldn't have hurt you."

"S'okay," he hiccupped.

"No Stephen," he protested. "I never should have treated you like that."

Standing, Stephen's too light figure cradled against his chest, Nick moved to the bed. Gently settling them against the head board he ran a hand down Stephen's back calmingly and twisted the lid off of the anti-biotic cream, coating his fingers before dropping the tube onto the bed beside the younger man.

"Stephen, I need you to stay still," he murmered. "Can you do that for me?"

Stephen nodded, "why?"

"I hurt you," he whispered. "I need to treat the tearing so it doesn't become infected."

"'K," he agreed. "Trust you."

Nick's stomach flipped, he couldn't believe Stephen still trusted him after what he had just done to the younger man. Carefully he eased his fingers into his lover's still painful opening. Stephen stiffened slightly at the gentle probing as Nick fingered him but didn't protest to the penetration. Removing his fingers Nick wiped them off on the t-shirt that he had discarded earlier and held Stephen tightly. His lover snuggled against his chest with a sigh and smiling sadly at the barely awake figure he pulled the bed sheets over them. Mumbling incoherently Stephen drifted off to sleep, head buried in the crook of Nick's neck.

Nick didn't sleep that night. His guilt was more consuming than his anger had been. He didn't know how he could ever make up for his thoughtless actions, how he could ever get Stephen to forgive his unacceptable behaviour. He knew he didn't deserve forgiveness and he could only hope that his lover would be willing to allow him to try and make things right between them. The younger man may not have been angry before falling asleep but he had been hurt and shocky and Nick suspected he wouldn't be so compliant in the morning. Stephen's eyes drifted open early the following morning. He hurt but he was relatively comfortable and tightened his grip on Nick's waist. Feeling the older man tense slightly at his actions he looked up, eyes wide with confusion, not understanding what was bothering his lover.

"Wha's wrong?" he frowned.

"I'm sorry," Nick sighed.

"Nicky," he sat up, painfully. "Did you sleep at all last night?"

"No," Nick shook his head.

"You're not still mad are you?" he couldn't hide his hesitancy.

"God no," Nick cupped his cheek. "I thought you would be mad at me."

"Why?" he blinked in surprise.

"I hurt you," Nick stated. "I took my anger out on you in the worst possible way."

"I'm not angry," he smiled.

"You should be," Nick informed.

"It hurts," he admitted. "But I hurt you and seeing you in pain I swore to myself I'd do anything to make you feel better."

"But my actions were unacceptable," Nick insisted.

"No," he shook his head. "Nicky, please don't feel guilty, just... hold me, get some rest."

"Stephen, are you sure?" Nick checked.

"Yeah," he nodded. "Want my comfy teddy," he drifted back to sleep.

Nick chuckled lightly and hugged the younger man tighter, brushing a kiss across Stephen's brow. If he was honest he would have been a lot angrier than Stephen was, he was amazed by the younger man's capacity for forgiveness. His lover sighed in contentment against his neck and he stopped thinking altogether, if their relationship could survive his stupidity then it could survive anything.

FIN