Disclaimer: This story contains mature themes, naughty language, and gay sexuality. If you are uncomfortable with that or under-age, don't read it. I don't know Rob Thomas or Stephan Jenkins. I seriously doubt they're gay, but what do I know? Anyway, it's just fiction and no malice is intended towards them.

Notes: Italics denote a flashback.

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Chapter Four: Wasted Thoughts

Rob stood again. Stephan remained immobile, a move (or lack of one in this case) that Rob took as defiance, despite the other man's unconsciousness. Rob glared down at him. How dare he! Remind me of myself... he bent his knee, raised his foot off the floor. Pure rage sifted through him. He swung his foot towards his felled "guest." As the movement flashed before him, though, the rage stilled, and he missed. It was just as well. He wanted Stephan to be awake when he beat the shit out of him. No, the kicking could wait. Just like everything else. Rob stood, not moving his foot from where it had landed atop the fireplace's ledge. He felt taller now, straddling him like this, with his other foot a centimeter from Stephan's torso. He stopped cradling his hand and let it drop to his side.

"Do you want me to thank you for the view?" came the unrepentant voice.

"What?" Rob stared down at him, staring up at him, but not him, his crotch. It wasn't really at eye level unless Stephan propped his head on his arm. Which, naturally, he did.

"You're sick," Rob spat. He sucked in his stomach, as though that would make other parts of him disappear as well.

Stephan smiled calmly at him. He shrugged, as much as his prone state would allow. Rob slammed his raised foot from the fireplace to Stephan's chest. Stephan slammed up involuntarily, coughing, before slamming back to the floor just as violently. Rob kept his foot centered over the ribcage. Stephan flattened his hands against the floor. Rob pressed on him, testing...how much force could he use before the man's chest broke and his foot fell into the mushy organs protected therein? Stephan watched with an almost bemused glint in his eye.

"Are you going to crush me to death, Rob?"

"I'm thinking about it, Stephan."

Stephan sighed. He smiled sadly. Rob hated that patronizing look. "Then get on with it, would you? I won't lie here all day."

You will if I kill you, Rob thought. It struck him funny and he almost laughed aloud. He choked it back, though, and Stephan squinted at him and the gargled sound stuck in his throat, the death rattle of a laugh.

He took his weight off Stephan's chest, though his foot stayed. Stephan reached up, grabbed his ankle. He held it lightly.

"Are you done?"

Rob stared at him. He was done glaring, didn't have the energy for it. He couldn't do it, not until he stopped hating himself more than he did Stephan. Seconds passed. Stephan stayed down, looking singularly disinterested in whatever might happen to either of them. His fingers gently squeezed Rob's ankle. Rob realized, as they tickled the fragile skin there, that he didn't want to move. That he was scared to move. He could feel Stephan's heart beneath his sole. It beat dangerously slow. It was a sleeping man's heartbeat. It had no business in the body of someone freshly attacked, someone who should be rising up, full of adrenaline and bent on revenge. Rob shuddered and fear, or the beginnings of it, flashed through him knowing now that being thrown down, and threatened with violence calmed the man beneath him. Knowing that he was, perhaps, unintentionally doing him a favor by it. Knowing that he could interchange his name or Stephan's in that sentence and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. He stared at Stephan. Stephan blinked. He looked away and back in an instant. A fraction of time, but long enough. Long enough to put the shield over his eyes. The blackness returned. He'd let Rob see into himself, and that wouldn't do. He slid his hands beneath Rob's foot and pushed up sharply. Rob lost his balance and fell on his ass. Stephan twisted up, and pressed his knee into Rob's neck. Rob cringed away from the dark eyes that could see right through him.

"Next time," Stephan said icily, "you'd better kill me."

Rob turned to him. The glare was back, harder. Next time, he would.

Noticing the shift in his mood, Stephan smiled down at him, almost fondly. Rob pushed fruitlessly at Stephan's knee, trying to get him off his neck. Stephan sat back a little, relieving the pressure. He settled onto Rob's chest.

"Are you going to hold me down forever?" Rob demanded, still pushing, from a different angle now.

"I might not have the chance again," Stephan replied.

'Damn right,' thought Rob. He flipped his leg up and somehow, miraculously, glanced a soft blow off Stephan's head with his socked foot. Stephan groaned in annoyance and, grabbing the errant foot, rolled off Rob and used it to flip him over into his lap, the foot now squashed beneath him. Rob dashed his fist out, remembering too late, after Stephan caught it easily and he lay in Stephan's lap wincing in pain, that it was the broken one.

"You still haven't learned to be still," Stephan chided him, sounding oddly parental.

"I won't be still while you're on me," Rob muttered.

Stephan chuckled at this and shook his head in disbelief. "You're just going to keep hurting yourself, Robby." Rob flinched from the hand which was now gently pushing his hair out of his eyes while the other lightly held Rob's reddening hand. He pulled at it, but Stephan squeezed his wrist, subtly but firmly telling him he would not be released.

"So I should just be like you, Stephan? And get off on whatever comes to me? Would that make you happy?" Rob snapped.

The hand in his hair clenched, pulling Rob's head up. The shift put more weight on his foot. He felt the tendons shift beneath him. Stephan pressed Rob's head to his chest. Rob felt the heartbeat there, slow as before. For a second, just a flash, he wished his own could match it. He pushed the thought aside. Stephan's hand was rubbing his scalp again and it felt good, almost like before...and he could forget...except it wasn't before, it was now, and he couldn't ever forget. He leaned into Stephan's chest. Nowhere else to go. And besides, wasn't it supposed to be safest in the eye of the storm? Rob tried not to tense as Stephan's long, smooth fingers traced his cheekbones. He shifted slightly. Stephan pulled him back down. Rob twisted, tiring of the wait.

"Go on and use me, Stephan."

Stephan, still holding the broken hand, squeezed. Rob screamed. Tears sprang into his eyes, threatening to spill over.

"I just want you to be still," Stephan whispered. "Can you understand that?"

"Yes," Rob said, biting his lip.

"Yes, what?" The hand on his fist tightened.

The tears spilled over his eyes. He stared up at Stephan who stared back, just as coldly. 'Sir,' stood at the tip of his lips, remnants of a Southern childhood, but he stamped it back. "Yes, Stephan," Rob said softly. Stephan released him and his stomach plummeted. He might as well have rolled over and stuck his ass in the air with a 'fuck me' sign on it. "Do what you want," Rob said, choking on the words, the hatred they instilled in him. He was a coward. Giving up on the wings of a memory. He curled unceremoniously on the floor, clutching his hand.

"Rob?" Stephan said. Rob didn't say anything. He pushed his face into the carpet, still trying to stop the tears.

"What?" he mumbled.

"I'm...sorry about your hand."

Rob turned abruptly, startled out of his downslide by the hint of sadness in Stephan's voice. "You're definitely sleeping on the couch tonight," he snapped, shielding himself from ever pitying this man.

Stephan smiled, standing now, and Rob rolled over again before he could think that just moments before their positions had been exactly reversed.


"What?" Rob groaned.

"What do you remember?"

"About what?"


A pause. "Nothing."

"Nothing?" Stephan shook his head in disbelief. "Your entire life and you remember *nothing* about it?"

Rob shrugged. "Nothing worth remembering."

"Will you remember me?" Stephan asked, the hint of a smile tugging at his lips.

Rob glanced at him dismissively. "No." His expression, had he been an adult and practiced at it, would have been a sneer, but, as he wasn't an adult, it was merely petulance. His smirk faded, though, when Stephan grinned at him and shook his head, clearly amused with his little trophy boy.

Stephan tossed a blanket at Rob before crashing on the couch. The boy looked around.

"Don't you have a bed?"

"No," came the reply.

"Geez," muttered Rob. He stomped off to the corner, as far from Stephan as possible, and threw the blanket down. He threw himself down on top of it. Great. Wooden floors. How fucking rustic.

"I'm glad you like it," said Stephan.

Rob rolled his eyes. He hadn't meant to say that out loud. He lay on his side, watching Stephan. Stephan ignored him. He thumbed through a book. Rob shifted, careful not to let Stephan out of his sight. He wouldn't sleep tonight. Not if it required trusting this dark haired man. He'd wait the whole night, until Stephan slept, and then, maybe, he'd sleep too. Maybe.

"Get on with it," Stephan said flatly, giving no indication of what he meant. Rob clenched his teeth, understanding immediately. So Stephan was like those women after all. He'd thought that maybe he wasn't...no, that was a lie. He'd never thought anything of this man who'd pulled him out of the snow, this man who'd sent him into the snow in the first place. He'd never thought anything of him at all, except that he *was* just like the others. He stepped towards Stephan, licking his lip unconsciously. This was the part he hated most, because it was what he did best. His hand slid to his shirt, softly undid the top two buttons.

"Problem, boy?" Stephan asked lazily. Rob dropped his hand and stared at him, trying to regain his focus. No, no problem. Just payment. Because you're no different than the others, and you've all *got* to be paid. Rob stepped towards him again, and swore to himself, as he did everytime, that he would never think of this person again. He placed a light hand on Stephan's shoulder. Stephan tensed slightly, glancing up at Rob, his features a balance of puzzlement and annoyance. Rob closed his eyes (It's no different with men.), lowered his head, and kissed Stephan's neck.

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