"Race, are you all right?" Benton turned to find his friend in a heap at the foot of the steps outside the London townhouse where they were staying while he attended yet another conference. He offered his bodyguard a hand up and surprised a look of pain on the familiar face.
"Damn, that was clumsy." Race joked and put weight on his right foot. "Ow!"
"What happened? Was there something on the step?" Benton didn't like the way Race was favoring his foot.
"No, nothing. I just tripped." Race grimaced and held on to the wrought iron railing. "It's probably just a sprain. You go on to your meeting. David has the car waiting. I'll put some ice on it and it'll be fine by the time you get back."
"Are you sure? Maybe we should call Dr. Bainbridge?"
Race threw him an exasperated look. "Nonsense. It's nothing. Ice is all it needs and maybe an ace bandage. Go and give your paper."
Benton hovered over him as he made his way slowly up the steps. With several backward looks, he left him being helped in by the butler and entered the Rolls Royce that would take him to the meeting. A worried feeling stayed with him for the next five hours while he spoke on alternative energy and participated in a panel discussion on wind power.
Several times he had the urge to call and see how Race was doing but each time he beat back the impulse. His friend was too independent to want to be smothered with worried attention. With a sigh of relief, Benton realized that he could finally leave. Slipping out of the conference hall, he signaled to David to swing by and pick him up. Leaning back with a sigh, he thought ahead to a quiet evening at the townhouse with his lover.
Race moved restlessly. The swelling should have gone down by now. The ice was almost entirely melted. He wiggled his toes and the pain was just as intense as it had been hours ago. Damn, damn, damn. What if it's broken? I'll never live this down. Tripping over my own feet!
The door opened and the butler slowly peered around the corner of the solid oak frame. "Dr. Bainbridge, sir."
Race bit back a growl of frustration. He hadn't asked for the doctor, but the roly-poly sixty-year old bounced in smiling, with his gray hair and beard perched above an impeccably cut navy silk suit. "Hello, hello, Race. I hear you had a bit of an accident."
"Good afternoon, Doctor. I fell and strained a muscle, that's all." Race smiled involuntarily at the beaming man who always seemed so full of life and laughter.
"Really? Then you won't mind if I have a look?" The doctor laid his black bag at the foot of the couch and plucked the ice bag off the cold foot. Race bit back a moan while the warm hands glided gently over his flesh. "Right here?"
"Yeow! That's the spot." Race gritted out.
"You know it's probably broken." Dr. Bainbridge smiled and ran his finger up beneath the heel to the little toe.
A sharp stabbing pain radiated out to his toes and Race just nodded through the throbbing.
"We're going to have to x-ray it to be sure. But unfortunately that's a rather nasty spot. Not the worst break, to be sure. But rather painful for all of that. Let me just call my chauffeur and we'll get you out to the car. My clinic is just around the corner." He bustled out, calling for Jennings and left Race feeling depressed.
Broken bones meant a cast. Which meant crutches and no bathing and pain for a week, at least. It meant he couldn't do his job properly and Benton would be out there without him to watch his back. Sighing, he pushed himself upright and grabbed the cane the butler had found for him. Hobbling to the door, he headed towards the sound of Dr. Bainbridge's voice.
Benton exited the Rolls and bade David goodnight. Thank God there's no dinner tonight. Just a quiet night at home.
The butler opened the door for him and handed him a note. Reading the scrawled lines, he worriedly asked for directions to the clinic. But before he could leave again, a van drove up and Dr. Bainbridge's cheery tones wafted up.
"Dr. Quest! Just in time to take delivery of one slightly broken security expert."
A pair of crutches appeared first, then Race ducked out of the back, swinging a black cast out on to the pavement. Benton bit back a quick answer when he saw his body guard's stone face. Oh, oh. Storm clouds ahead.
He endured the good doctor's explanations of the break, took the bottle of pain pills prescribed and watched surreptitiously while Race made his way slowly up the stairs. Disdaining any help, he hobbled gingerly out of sight and Benton sighed silently.
Dr. Bainbridge's snort brought his attention back to him. "He's going to be a very bad patient, Dr. Quest. He's used to being in control, I expect, and having to depend on others will drive him right up the wall. Yes?"
"Yes." Benton agreed with a wince. "We've been together fifteen years and I can count on one hand the times he's been really sick or hurt. Bad doesn't begin to describe him. How long will the pain last?"
The chubby little doctor cocked his head and considered. "3 months?" He smiled at Benton's gasp. "Not constant, of course. But even after it's healed, there will be some residual twinges. I'm more concerned about the swelling that will continue for the next 48 hours. Try and keep him off it. Raise it above his heart at least fifteen minutes every hour. Keep him warm and keep his mind off it. If that's possible?"
Benton nodded and fought to keep the blush from his cheeks at the thought of one way he could keep him flat on his back. "I'll do my best, Doctor. It was very good of you to take the time to come and see him. It beats taking him to the emergency room any day."
"Not to worry. That's what neighbors are for." The doctor shook his hand and left, calling out a cheery goodbye to the butler.
"Maron." Benton found the butler locking the front door. His small dark features were noncommittal as he waited for instructions. "Thank you for calling Dr. Bainbridge. Now, we just have to make sure that Mr. Bannon stays off his feet for the weekend. Which may prove difficult."
"Yes, sir." A faint smile crossed the thin lips. "Not impossible but probably awkward. Dinner is almost ready. Why don't I serve it in the sitting room that you share. If you suggest a quiet evening ...?"
"Good idea." Benton sighed in relief. "I'll just tell him I need to work on my part of tomorrow's discussion. If I can just get him to swallow one or two of the pain pills, this will be much easier. Maybe if I have you sit on him while I hold his nos?"
"Perhaps, reasoning with him, sir?" Maron quirked an eyebrow and headed for the kitchen.
Benton grinned and headed up the stairs, two at a time. Peeking around Race's door, he found the tall man stretched out on his bed with one arm over his eyes. Closing the door behind him, he crossed the room and sat gingerly on the edge of the bed by his lover's hip.
"Maron is bringing dinner up here to the sitting room. You can prop your foot up on one of the chairs."
Race dropped his arm and smiled a tiny smile that broke Benton's heart. Leaning down, he gently kissed the little pain lines from around the pale lips. The clean Race-scent was overlaid by the antiseptic aroma of the clinic. His hands rubbed tiny circles on Race's temples and a purr rumbled from his chest.
"You know, I'm sorry that you're hurt but ..." Benton tasted the bristly skin just under Race's chin before pulling back and gazing into the blue eyes that slitted in pleasure beneath him. "I'm not sorry that I get to pamper you this weekend. Just you and I and the magical staff that will keep us fed."
"Pamper me?" Race tried to look forbidding.
"Oh, yes. Back rubs, help in the bath, fetching and carrying." Benton caressed the hard chest beneath his hands. "I'll even let you have charge of the remote control."
"You'd do that for me?" Race cast a look of disbelief at him, before grinning. "We could watch the World Cup."
"Even that." Benton controlled his laughter with effort. He could see the toll the accident had taken of his lover in the fine tremors that rippled beneath his fingers as Race tried to shift on the too soft bed. "I'll watch them run up and down the field with their little ball while the crowds go crazy. Just for you."
"Greater love hath no man." Race traced his cheek with a gentle finger. "I'm sorry I was so clumsy. Don't you have another panel tomorrow?"
"Yes, but it's first thing in the morning and I'll be back by noon. You'll just have to sleep in. If I wear you out tonight ..." Benton waggled his eyebrows.
"My spirit's willing but my body doesn't seem too interested, love." Race grimaced.
"A challenge!" Benton grinned and kissed him silly. "You know how I love a challenge. But first let's get you into the sitting room so we can eat dinner. I believe its lemon swordfish tonight."
Dinner was excellent but their conversation was subdued. Benton talked of the afternoon panel discussion and some of the ideas that had come up at the easy give and take session. Race listened and nodded a few times. The pain lines were back around his mouth and he shifted in the chair several times, moving his heavily casted foot on the chair next to him into a new position each time.
Benton got up and got the pain pills, shaking out two of them and kneeling by Race's side. "Please. Take them."
Those blue eyes looked back at him steadily. Briefly they battled in a silent tug of wills before Race reached out and took the pills. Benton handed him the water and watched thankfully while they were washed down. Race sighed and feathered a soft touch to the side of Benton's mouth.
"I love you, you know. But I hate this whole situation."
"I know you do. But I'll be perfectly safe tomorrow and then we'll spend the afternoon just ... relaxing." Benton kissed the strong hand on his cheek, caressing the palm with his lips.
"Yes, you will be safe. I called in Joe Peterson to watch you tomorrow. He'll be here at seven to go with you and stay until you're back here safely." Race said calmly, leaning in for a proper kiss. "I will not take risks with your safety. You're too important."
Benton leaned forward and hugged him hard, listening to the strong heartbeat under his ear. He felt a soft kiss on his hair and flexed his shoulders under the caressing hands that stroked him slowly. "How about a hot bath to relax your muscles and then I'll give you a back rub?"
"Sounds like heaven. What are we going to do about sleeping?" Race sounded uncertain for the first time in a long time.
Benton raised up and kissed him gently. "Not to worry. My bed is harder so it will give you the support you need for your leg. Not to mention your back which I've noticed you've been rubbing when you think I'm not looking. We'll just tell Maron that we're switching rooms." He rose to his feet and crossed the room to ring the buzzer for the butler.
Race swung his leg down to the floor and grabbed for the wooden crutches. Wavering only a little, he made his way to the hall entrance. By the time he got there, Maron had tapped on the door and entered with his silver tray to clear the dinner dishes. Holding the door, Race headed for the bathroom across the hall.
"We're going to change rooms for the night, Maron. My bed is firmer and I think Race may have twisted his back when he fell." Benton kept one ear on the hall, listening for any sounds of distress.
The butler hesitated in his stacking of dishes and his gaze was steady on the vegetable dish in his hand. "Of course, sir. However, since you have the king bed, Sir, might I suggest that you share it tonight? In case, Mr. Bannon should need assistance in the night."
Benton swallowed once before nodding slowly, watching an answering warmth gleam for a moment in the butler's eyes. "Perhaps, you're right. He's not used to the pain pills and may wake disoriented."
"Exactly, Sir." Maron continued to stack dishes. "Shall I serve breakfast at six here in the sitting room?"
"Good idea, Maron. A Mr. Peterson will be joining us and going with me to the conference." Benton heard a swear word from the bathroom and hurried to the door.
"Dr. Quest?" Maron pulled a large plastic bag from his jacket pocket. "A cover for the cast with suitable closure so he doesn't get it wet."
"Good thinking, Maron. We'll see you in the morning then. I'm just going to make sure he doesn't drown himself." Benton smiled, accepted the bag and crossed to the bathroom.
Tapping on the solid oak paneled door, he listened for Race's voice. Hearing the subdued call, he entered to the sight of a half naked man sitting on the toilet lid struggling to get his pants off over the knee high black cast. Benton knelt and gently tugged the scissored material down over the cast and off over the cold toes that protruded from the open end of the fiberglass.
"Thanks." Race held on to the edge of the sink and pulled himself up while Benton pulled down his boxers and steadied him.
"Sit back down while I cover the cast for your bath." Benton shook out the plastic bag.
"Shower." Race eased himself down. "The tub is too deep for me to get in and out easily. I'm feeling a little stiff right now."
Benton used the first rubber band to secure the top of the bag to the cast then banded the plastic again above the knee, wrapping the ends smoothly so they wouldn't catch the water. "Okay. You want to share?"
"Wouldn't have it any other way." Race stroked a gentle caress down the bearded check and smiled wryly. "Besides, you may need to keep me upright. Those pain pills have started to work and I'm feeling a little off balance."
"No problem, lover." Benton rose and pulled Race up into his arms. Race began to undress him with unhurried movements that slowly stripped him bare, his fingers brushing tenderly over the scientist's skin. Benton shivered and pulled away, drawing Race after him.
The shower stall was a large glass walled structure with two showerheads on either side of the space. Race leaned against the wall while Benton stepped inside and turned on the water to adjust the temperature. When the steam began to rise, Race stepped gingerly over the sill and closed the door behind him.
Benton lathered his hands and began to clean the bronzed satin flesh before him. Turning Race around, he stroked the long lean lines of the back that stretched under the hot water. "Maron suggested that we share the king bed. In case you need help in the night."
Race stilled with both hands against the wall, holding himself up. "Do you think he knows?"
Benton knelt and soaped the back of the heavily muscled thighs. "I expect so. But he seems all right with it. Perhaps he has a handsome lover at home."
"He couldn't have a clumsier one." Race sounded resigned, spreading his legs apart so Benton could reach between them to get the fronts.
"It was an accident, Race. You're human, not Superman." Benton ran the soap over the last of the left leg. "Besides, this way I get to have my evil way with you and you can't fight back."
Race snorted with laughter and turned around, leaning back against the tile and gazing down at his lover. "I could never fight you, love. I like it when you want to have your way with me."
"Well, that's no fun." Benton slid his hands up to cup Race's inattentive groin with soapy hands. Gently, he cleaned the whole area without once getting a reaction. "I think those pills are working. You're relaxed all over."
Race smiled ruefully. "Fraid so. It's all I can do to stay upright. The whole room has developed an alarming tendency to tilt when I don't focus."
Benton smiled understandingly and finished soaping the broad chest and arms before guiding him beneath the showerhead to rinse off. Hastily, cleaning himself, he turned off the water and helped him out of the shower onto the mat. Never letting go, he grabbed a towel and briskly rubbed them both dry. Wrapping the almost sleepwalking Race in a deep green terry cloth robe, he sat him back down on the toilet lid and knelt to remove the plastic bag.
Checking carefully, he made sure no water had gotten through to the fiberglass cast. Casting a through look at the toes that stuck out of the end, he noticed the swelling and felt their cold, clammy feel. Grabbing another robe and putting it on, he pulled Race to his feet and guided him back to the master bedroom.
The bed had already been turned down and Benton tucked Race in on 'his' side of the bed. He was asleep almost before his head hit the pillow. The scientist shook his head and puttered about the room, laying out his clothes for the next day and making sure his paper was tucked securely in his briefcase. Then crawling into bed, he uncovered Race's cast and began a gentle massage of the swollen toes. Before he stopped for the night, they were rosy and warm to the touch.
His last thought before sleep overtook him was a small prayer of relief that the accident hadn't been worse.
Benton shaded his eyes and looked over the beach. No Race. Striding around the corner of the deck, he checked the pool. Again, no Race. Okay. The cast has been off for a full day. He'd normally head for the water since he's been without it for so long. But all the usual places are empty. Where could he be?
Heading for their suite, he pondered the whereabouts of his lover. He'd been so off balance without the cast, Benton had insisted on his using the crutches he'd abandoned after the first week. And the swelling which had been instantaneous should have slowed him down even further. But the scientist hadn't wanted to seem to hover over him so he'd left him alone and gone to work in the lab.
But now he was starting to visualize all sorts of things gone wrong. Maybe he'd fallen again or gotten stuck someplace. Whoa, Benton, get a hold of yourself. He's fine. He's just in a place you haven't looked in, yet.
Opening the door to their bedroom, he heard the rumble of the whirlpool jets from the hot tub on the secluded patio outside the wide sliding glass doors. He smiled and began stripping off his clothes, leaving them in a heap next to Race's shorts and shirt. Padding quietly out to the open door, he feasted his eyes on his relaxing love.
The short white hair was disheveled, framing the tanned face that wore a faint frown. His broad shoulders peaked from the frothing water that filled the tub almost to the rim. Occasionally, his toes would appear, bobbing out of the water on the other side of the tub. A faint scent of almonds wafted from the bubbles and Benton inhaled with pleasure.
"Race." Calling his name softly, Benton approached the tub.
The blue eyes opened and a smile replaced the frown. "This feels so decadent, Benton. I finally got over being lopsided."
Easing his long body into the steaming water, Benton sighed and stretched out his legs. Finding Race's right foot, he ran a gentle hand up the sole and began to wiggle the still too plump toes. As soon as the cast came off, his entire lower leg had swollen uncomfortably, the dead white skin stretched over edema filled flesh. The doctor had said with some gentle exercise and elevation every few hours, the swelling would go down soon.
Looking up, Benton caught the frown back on Race's face. "Pain or just discomfort?"
Race blushed. "It's all scales and dead skin. I tried to scrub it off with the loofah before I got in the tub but I know I didn't get it all."
"I'll massage some oil into it after we get out. A couple days of brushing off the dead skin and rubbing in moisture will see that little problem go away." Benton kept his rubbing gentle, more a tender slide over the skin than a real stroke.
The lazy smile that Benton loved returned, lighting the deep blue gaze and crinkling the laugh lines around his eyes. "Only if there's enough oil to massage some of my other ... tender places."
The water heated at his words or perhaps Benton's skin just became more sensitized. Sliding both hands up the long lean legs, he moved across the intervening feet that separated him from his waiting lover. The kiss was long and luscious with languid strokings of tongue against tongue while their hands mirrored the same slow strokes on each other's bodies.
"Bed." Benton's brain was capable of monosyllables only.
"Now." Race replied from beneath his ear where he was busy sliding his tongue over and over the spot that made Benton shiver.
Benton retained enough thinking ability to make sure that Race got out of the tub safely before wrapping them in a single giant bath towel that absorbed the excess moisture before dropping to the tiles. They remained in each other's arms while crossing the room to the wide bed that took up most of the north wall.
The scientist snagged the almond oil from the bedside table before joining Race on the bed. Once there, Race calmly took over, plucking the bottle from his hand and pulling him down to his chest. The kiss resumed with gusto while the bodyguard's now oiled hands worked Benton's long back muscles with loving strokes.
Benton shivered when the long fingers brushed down his cleft. It had been a while since Race had felt up to making love to him other than with his lips and hands. The cast had been a rather clumsy deterrent to passion for a man used to controlling his body and all it's muscle groups. But now his touch was sure and firm, readying his lover for the ultimate sharing.
Race stretched him gently while Benton licked and nuzzled the firm nipples that rose from the hard chest beneath him. Then the fingers were gone, leaving him empty and aching. But the warm bulk that nudged him next made him angle his body backward and down with a sudden hiss as the flared head stretched him wide before snapping tight around the hard intruder.
They rested for a moment, savoring the connection. Benton loved watching Race's eyes crease in pleasure. Tweaking the nipples under his hands, he relaxed his back muscles and slid Race deep inside himself. The hard nudge against his prostate blurred his vision for a moment and sent little sparks along all his neural pathways.
"Oh, gods. That feels good." Race moaned and rocked up, going deeper yet. His hands gripped the slim hips above him and established a rhythm that threatened to send Benton into overload before he was ready. As if realizing that, Race slowed the deep strokes and angled his thrust so it only hit the sensitive prostate every other time.
The next few moments were spent in gentle murmurs and tender caresses that heated rather than enflamed. This was a cherishing of each other rather than an aching possession. The pleasure built slowly and once Race began a steady stroking of Benton's own hard cock, their ascent to the peak of passion was a dead heat that overflowed into mutual satisfaction.
Benton welcomed the warmth that flooded his depths while he pulsed out his pleasure onto Race's stomach. Languidly, he lowered himself onto the sticky chest, feeling his lover slip from him regretfully. Pillowing his head in the curve of Race's shoulder, he sighed contentedly.
Race turned them over onto their sides, never letting go of the scientist. One hand massaged Benton's lower back while the other stroked his neck just below the hairline. The scientist petted the satin smooth skin on Race's hips with short teasing strokes that made the skin ripple beneath his fingers.
If he was very lucky, they were going to spend the night making love. All the energy that Race had spent in healing over the last two months seemed to be concentrated on him now. Benton hid a smile while tasting the skin beneath his mouth. And I plan on enjoying every minute of it.
End of part eight