Chapter 7

A/N I want to thank the few of you who are reading this story. I might not continue it because I'm not getting feedback. I don't know if readers are finding the story interesting or really boring. I have more chapters, but please let me know if I should publish them or quit.

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Both Damon and Stefan came to the place where Josh and Katherine sat together on the ground, the laptop providing them light as if it were a campfire.

"Here they come," Josh said, eyeing the two men nervously, but also with relief.

"I should whip your ass," Damon growled at the boy.

"I'm sorry. Everything I do turns out wrong," Josh said, feeling defeated.

"So, you broke your ankle?" Damon asked gruffly.

"Yeah. I can't really stand on it and it's all puffed up."

Damon and Stefan both knelt down and examined the swollen ankle. They didn't remove his sneaker.

"Something is broken and the ankle is probably twisted and torn," Damon said without pity.

He stood up. He wasn't going to carry the boy back to the house. He could have, but he was supposed to be injured and in pain.

Stefan reached down and helped Josh stand up on one foot.

"Put your arm around my neck and I'll pick you up," Stefan said.

"I…I peed my pants. I'll get you wet," Josh admitted, embarrassed.

"I don't care," Stefan said. "Same thing has happened to me a couple of times."

In a moment he had the boy in his arms. Josh groaned at the pain in his leg caused by all the movement, but then he calmed down.

"I thought I'd be stuck in that cave all night. Thank God Katherine found me," he said to Stefan.

Katherine, carrying his backpack, smiled at him in the starlight. "I'm glad I found you, too, kiddo." They looked at each other, smiled and said no more. Josh felt a little better.

Damon, walking ahead of them, didn't see the smile. Stefan, watching were he was walking, didn't either.

They came to the back patio, which was lit, and to the back door. Katherine had to stop. She held out the backpack to Damon, who took it.

"Thanks for helping the kid," he said to her.

"No problem. My pleasure, in fact. Good luck with that ankle, Josh," she said and she winked at him.

He grinned at her and said, "Thank you, Katherine. You're my new bud."

Inside the kitchen, Stefan set Josh down where he could sit at the table.

Mrs. Flowers hovered around, very concerned, but very relieved. Like the two fellows, she wanted to reprimand Josh, but she held back. He was pale, in pain, dirty and he smelled. She could tell by the streaks on his face that he had shed tears.

They all looked at his ankle as he pulled up the leg of his jeans. He wasn't wearing socks, so it was easy to see the swelling of the right ankle.

"He needs to go to the hospital," Mrs. Flowers said, shaking her head. "I'll put an ice pack on it, but it's already swollen." She went to the refrigerator to get ice.

"I guess I need a cast," Josh said, staring at the malformed joint.

"It may need more than that. Maybe even surgery," the aunt said.

"I don't want surgery!"

"It may be necessary. You don't want to end up with a crippled leg," his aunt said as she handed ice wrapped in a towel to Stefan, who held it gently against the ankle.

"Oh, God," Josh muttered. "Before we go, could I have a drink of water? I am so thirsty. And I wish I could change clothes. I had an accident. I didn't bring more jeans when I left home."

"No water, Josh," his aunt the retired nurse said. "If you need surgery, you don't want food and water in your stomach."

"I don't know if my jeans will fit you, Josh," Stefan said. He was slim in the hips, but he was not as narrow as the boy. However, the jeans were skinny-legged. "You can try on a pair if you want. But you know, people who end up in the emergency rooms at hospitals often arrive there dirty, wet, bloody and soiled from 'accidents'. The doctors often cut their clothes off. So don't worry about how you look. If they cut your pants off, we'll get you some new ones. I promise."

Josh looked from Stefan to Damon to Mrs. Flowers, who nodded.

"I'm sorry to cause all this trouble," he said nodding. He looked at Damon and asked, "Is your wound okay?"

"It's fine. A flesh wound, as they say. It'll heal quickly," Damon assured him.

"That's good. I can't believe that happened."

"Stuff happens," Damon said, rolling is eyes.

Stefan went with Josh and Mrs. Flowers in her car to the hospital. They put a folded blanket on the back seat for Josh to sit on and he propped his foot up on the seat. Stefan rode beside the lady driver and directed the best way to reach the facility. He also called the sheriff to let her know they had found Josh. He learned that Damon had already notified her.

The emergency room was fairly quiet and Josh got right into an examination room. Mrs. Flowers gave the information to the woman at the desk. She also phoned Josh's father to let him know what had happened, that Josh was safe, and that he was in the hospital. The man was both relieved and angry. He gave the hospital permission for Josh to have surgery if needed. He gave the necessary insurance information.

After an examination and X-rays, it was decided that Josh needed surgery for the fracture, which was of the lower end of the fibula bone. The ankle and foot were also sprained. Josh was afraid of having to have surgery, but both his aunt and Stefan gave him encouragement, although Stefan just stood by the cubicle curtain. From that angle, he didn't notice the two little wounds on the boy's neck. For the most part, he stayed in the waiting area.

So no one noticed the tiny bite marks Katherine had left low on his neck until he was in the operating room. Along with the rest of the surgical team, both an anesthesia doctor and an anesthesia nurse took care of him. That nurse was a young woman named Kaitlyn Fell. She knew a vampire bite when she saw one, even one as slight as this one. Josh had been bitten. She wasn't sure, but she thought the distance between the fang marks was too narrow to be that of a male. He had been bitten by a female and the marks were very fresh. She said nothing about it.

Josh' jeans had been removed without them being cut. Because of the time needed to do the surgery and for his recovery, Mrs. Flowers and Stefan drove home and she laundered Josh's clothes. In fact, she told Stefan to change his clothes, too, and she washed them with Josh's.

"In the morning I'll go buy him another pair of pants, some underwear and another shirt," Stefan said, writing down the sizes of the clothing. "He needs more than one set. I wonder if he'll have a cast. Maybe some looser shorts would be better than jeans. I'll check it out."

"That's generous of you, Stefan," the woman said. She was weary. "I never imagined having Josh stay at the house for a couple of days would turn into such a disaster. I can't believe he shot Damon. Am I right in believing that he truly could have killed Damon?" She hadn't mentioned it until now. It had really been weighing on her mind.

"Yes," Stefan said.

She leaned her hands on the washing machine and shook her head. Damon had lived over one hundred and fifty years, and in one afternoon her nephew had nearly ended his life.

"Don't dwell on it, Mrs. Flowers," Stefan said. "Our lives are always in danger. It's the way it is. A period of tranquility is rare. Let me know when you're ready to go back to the hospital."

Stefan found Damon in his room on his bed, reading a book. He gave Damon a report on the boy.

"If he stays in the hospital overnight and most of tomorrow, I guess we'll be safe," Damon said with a snort.

A small smile touched Stefan's lips.

As it turned out, Mrs. Flowers got a call on her cell phone from the surgeon. Josh was doing fine and was sleeping. He was going to stay overnight so they could keep an eye on his foot. He would likely be discharged around mid morning the next day. Neither Stefan nor Mrs. Flowers went back to the hospital that Friday night.

At the hospital the next morning, Josh was sore, but impatient to get discharged. He was given instructions on how to use crutches. He needed to be able to go up stairs without falling or putting much weight on his bad foot. A therapist helped him practice. The doctor told him that the sprain might actually take longer to heal than the bone fracture. That wasn't good news to the active boy who was particularly fond of playing soccer. If he went back home and to his school, he wouldn't be able to play any of the sports.

Mrs. Flowers showed up to take him home. She brought his laundered clothes, plus a pair of khaki shorts that belonged to Stefan. She waited outside his room for him to dress. It was lucky that she had brought the bigger, looser shorts, because his jeans were narrow-legged and he was not able to get them on over his foot. He didn't have a plaster cast on his foot and ankle, but it was bandaged and encased in a soft "boot" strapped around the foot and ankle. He wasn't pleased with the shorts, but they really were not that different from a pair of cargo shorts he owned. Finally, he was ready to go.

"My dad called me this morning," he told Mrs. Flowers as a nurse pushed him in a wheelchair toward the front entrance.

"I'm glad he did. He was worried about you."

"He's still really pissed at me. He didn't say it, but I could tell."

"Not surprising, I would imagine. But he's glad you're all right now."

At the house, they found both Damon and Stefan waiting on the porch, watching as Josh made his way on the crutches.

"You survived, I see," Damon said, his tone a bit snarky.

"Yes, sir. I guess you're stuck with me again." Josh found that he was less afraid of the dark-haired Salvatore. After all, the man hadn't had him arrested after the crossbow incident. And he had helped search for him, according to Aunt Theo.

"Can you go up the stairs?" Stefan asked. "If not, one of us can help you."

"Yeah," Damon said. "We don't want you tumbling down the stairs and breaking something else."

"They let me practice going up and down stairs. I'll try not to fall," Josh assured them as he managed the couple of steps to the front porch easily enough.

"Head for the kitchen, dear," Mrs. Flowers said. "It's almost lunch time and I'm sure you're hungry."

"I'm starving," Josh said and he gladly headed down the hall.

"I did a little shopping this morning," Stefan said to the boy, who settled on a chair at the kitchen table. "You can try on the stuff and see if it fits. Especially the shorts. We need to know you can get them on."

"You shopped for me? Thanks, Stefan. That really rocks!" Josh said, impressed.

"Does your ankle hurt much?" Mrs. Flowers asked. "I have the pain pills for you if you need them."

"Yeah, it hurts. Throbs, like. I could use a pill," Josh said. He watched his aunt take a pill container from her purse, shake out a pill and then get him a glass of water. He swallowed the pill and hoped it worked fairly quickly. Then, hungry, he watched her make grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone and heat up soup for herself and him. The brothers ate only the sandwiches.

"You guys don't eat much," Josh observed.

"We sometimes pig out," Damon said. "But we like to keep that ripped look." He patted his toned abdomen.

"I guess y'all work out. Stefan said there's a gym here."

"Some," Damon said, although he rarely used the equipment. He couldn't tell the boy that being a vampire helped him maintain his physique. He also couldn't tell him that he consumed blood as food and that he had had two bags of it with breakfast.

Stefan didn't say anything about the fact that he had had deer blood for breakfast. He tended to use the gym equipment more than Damon did, sometimes almost daily for a few minutes. It added to his muscle power, which he wasn't augmenting with human blood.

After lunch, Stefan showed the boy the rec room, with its exercise machines and pool table and dart board. There was an old fashioned pinball machine and the equipment necessary to play Wii games. All this impressed Josh, but he didn't feel well enough to try any of it. He thought he was unusually weary and his aunt told him that it was because of the surgery and anesthesia he had had. Also, the pain medication made him a little sleepy.

Both Mrs. Flowers and Stefan went upstairs with Josh, making sure he didn't lose his balance and fall down the stairs. Stefan showed him the few clothes he had bought, which Josh found acceptable. He wished he could put on long pants, but he couldn't unless he cut the right pant leg way up the side.

Josh was still dirty from his time in the cave. He had used a wash cloth on his face and arms while in the hospital, but his hair especially was dirty. He didn't care. He wasn't interested in cleaning up right now. He just wanted to rest and give the pill time to ease his pain.

The two older people left him alone, although they left the bedroom door open. He lay on the bed with his laptop, which he used to contact his friend Rusty. Handling the laptop made him think of Katherine and the two of them sitting in the cave, talking . Thoughts of Katherine popped into his head frequently. They were often risqué thoughts, not uncommon for a youth his age. In a short while, he turned off the laptop and fell asleep thinking of her and the biting kiss she had given him.

He dreamed he was down in the hole again and Katherine was with him. She had brought a deck of cards and they started to play by the light of his laptop. They were playing poker, but he ran out of money as he lost to her. She suggested they continue by making the game strip poker. He liked that idea a lot.

She was the first to lose a hand and she took off the low-cut camisole top that she was wearing. She took it off slowly, a little at a time, teasing him. He was surprised to see that she had a bra on, because he could have sworn she had not been wearing one. Now he saw that the fabric was very thin and lacy and that was why her nipples showed.

On a dare, he and Rusty had boldly walked through a Victoria's Secret store at the mall one time, looking at the sexy lingerie, and he had seen some like Katherine was wearing. The visit to the store had been short because a saleslady had chased them out, especially after Rusty had a giggle fit. Josh had been embarrassed, but the venture had been worth it. Something similar had happened when they had looked at the flimsy, lacy products in the J.C. Penney's store.

The next hand of poker Josh lost. He was too distracted by the two breasts to concentrate. He started to unbutton his shirt, but Katherine reached over and slowly did it for him. She slipped the sleeves off his arms so that he sat there bare-chested. She looked him over and he wished he had a bigger chest, better muscles. He should work out more, but his body was not yet making sufficient hormones to make him taller or to build big muscles. He and his friends had been warned not to take steroids, but he knew a couple of older boys who did take them because they were into body building or football.

The boys at school who were around his age were of many sizes, some built like he was, many taller and more slender, some built like football linemen and a couple well over six feet.

The game progressed and Katherine lost the next hand. She stood up and removed her short skirt. Underneath, she had panties just like in Victoria's Secret. They barely hid her most private parts. Josh knew many girls did a "bikini shave" and he guessed that Katherine did, too.

This sort of activity was getting him excited, of course. The private part of his body had developed some size faster than his upper body. At least something was maturing …

A noise forced him to come out of the dream. Groggy, he looked up to see Damon standing by his bed looking at him. His fear of Damon sent a shot of adrenaline through his body and he became alert.

"What?" he asked, nervously. He became aware that he had his hand down at his crotch and he was aroused. He didn't know whether he should move his hand away or keep it covering him. The shorts didn't hide his condition at all.

"Just checking up on you," Damon said, raising his eyebrows. "Having a good dream, I see." He rolled his eyes.

"I … I guess so," Josh stammered. Couldn't he even take a nap without someone just walking in on him?

A/N I guess this isn't a very exciting chapter. Sorry. I have more misadventures for Josh, but as I said earlier, I won't bother to post the chapters if folks are finding the story boring. Please let me know.