Genre: Gay (m/m) Romance, Red Hot!
Length: Short Story
Cover Artist: Jared Rackler
Nick sat as still as he could while Ben walked around him, gently poking and prodding, then moving his arm slowly to test for range of motion and degree of discomfort.
When Ben came to stand behind him, Nick tensed. Since the tattoo was the only unusual thing on his back, his friend would figure out his source of his anxiety quickly.
As Ben continued his exam, he tried to bring it up. "Interesting artwork, Nick. I never took you for the tattoo type."
"Don't, Ben," Nick whispered, a shudder running through him. "I don't want to talk about it."
"All right, boy. Keep your secrets," Ben said finally, his familiar Southern drawl soothing Nick more than the actual words.
In short order, the doctor finished his examination and carefully bandaged the shoulder and arm. Grabbing a pad from his desk drawer, he wrote out a couple of prescriptions and took out an arm sling from his large medical bag in the corner.
As Nick dressed in the spare scrub shirt Ben handed him, the doctor picked up his desk phone and dialed a number.
"Who are you calling, Ben?"
"Alex. He will want a report of your injuries."
"Shit. I'm out of here." Sliding off the table with difficulty, Nick collected his things.
"Aren't you going to wait for Alex?" Ben grinned knowingly, laughter lurking in his tone.
"Ahh... no." After slipping the sling over his head and inserting his arm carefully, Nick clipped his holster to his waistband and hooked the badge on his belt.
Frowning, Nick tried to glare at his friend, but it didn't have much of an impact. Ben knew he was anxious to avoid Alex, while his boss would be equally determined to not let him out of his sight.
Before he could ask Ben to hold off, Alex stormed into the room, door banging against the wall. Great. With the way his luck was running, Nick wouldn't be surprised if he was struck by lightning on a sunny day.
"So, what's the verdict, Ben?" Alex asked, his tone cold enough to give someone a chill.
"Nick has a sprained shoulder and numerous cuts and bruises. I'm giving him prescriptions for the pain, the shoulder strain and any possible infection that might come up. He should be fine by Monday if he takes care of himself." Raising an eyebrow, Ben glared at Nick, but directed his comments to Alex. "The usual - no heavy lifting and no pressure on the arm and shoulder. He will need to keep his arm in the sling I gave him for as long as he can stand it."
"So, he's cleared to go home?" Alex asked Ben, but his gaze rested squarely on Nick.
"Yes, and with a few days' rest, he should be fine to come back to work, provided he takes care of himself." Walking over to Nick with the prescriptions in hand, Ben smiled with understanding. "Come see me on Monday, and I'll release you for work. And call me if you need anything."
"Thanks, Ben." Nick pocketed the prescriptions and walked toward the open door, giving Alex a wide berth.
"Where do you think you're going?" Alex said as he caught up with Nick in the deserted hallway.
"Home. Doctor's orders." Nick could feel what little energy and strength he had fading fast, leaving him sluggish and aching.
"Yes, you are, and I'm taking you to my place. You're not driving anywhere in that condition."
Annoyed and short on patience, Nick turned toward Alex. "I don't think it's a good idea, Alex. I'll catch a cab or ask one of the guys to drive me home."
He desperately needed to rest before he did something foolish, like break down in front of Alex and ask for a hug - or worse, a cuddle. In Nick's experience, hardcore cops like Alex only did fucking, not cuddling.
"Let's go. We'll stop by the pharmacy and pick up your medicines first." Alex put a hand on his good shoulder and maneuvered him into the waiting elevator.
Facing the sliding doors, Nick forced himself to speak. "I don't want to go home with you, Alex. I'm not some wounded stray in need of rescue."
"Between the injury and the medications, you're going to need help getting things done." Alex's voice was adamant. "Besides, I already know about the tattoo."
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