An Injury to the Heart
Copyright July 2002
Jesse stood motionless in the shower, wishing the hot spray of water would soothe not only his aching muscles but also wash away the ache of loneliness in his heart. "It hurts so damn much," he whispered, his clenched hands pounding on the tiled wall.
Lifting his face into the spray, Jesse allowed the water to hide the tears he could not hold back. He silently cursed each tear that fell, cursed the emotions that tore at his heart. Finally, Jesse pulled himself together and, turning off the water, stepped out of the shower.
Droplets flew in all directions as he shook his hair. Grabbing a towel, Jesse walked over to one of the full-length mirrors and performed a critical self-examination. "Iím too short," he announced to the empty physiciansí locker room. "Too short and too skinny." Looking down at his lax genitals, he measured the slender length of his cock. "Definitely not something to write home to mother about."
Securing his towel around his waist, Jesse stepped forward and critiqued his features. "Nice smile. Perfect teeth, thanks to three years in braces. And my eyesÖ" He brushed a hand over his reflective image. "Ö theyíre a cool shade of blue." Shaking his head, Jesse frowned. "Who am I kidding? Put glasses on me and I look like a total geek."
The young physician sighed and rested his forehead against the damp surface of the mirror. "Even if Steve was interested in playing on my side of the street, heíd never waste his time on the likes of me." Jesse stepped back and ran his hand through his blonde hair. "Why would he? Iím nothing special."
Dismissing his disappointing image, Jesse twisted around and walked over to his locker. Opening the metal door, he pushed aside several hanging shirts and gazed at the picture taped to the back wall. The photograph was of Detective Steve Sloan, his best friend. Jesse touched the image of the manís face, his fingers lingering over Steveís smiling lips. "I could have loved you so good. You just donít know."
With a deep sigh, Jesse finished drying off, his gaze focused on the picture in his locker. Closing his eyes, he admonished himself, "Get a life, Jesse Travis. Steveís not gay and will never be interested in you. Move on." Jesse tossed his towel in the soiled linen hamper before grabbing clean clothes from his gym bag. Hearing voices approach, he scrambled to hide Steveís picture. Certain his secret was shielded from curious eyes, Jesse quickly dressed, pausing only to wave a hand at the two interns entering the room.
Tucking the hem of his white t-shirt into the waistband of his blue jeans, he elbowed his locker shut. Jesse then balled up his blood-stained lab coat and stuffed it into his gym bag. With a last glance around, he headed toward the exit. "Might as well go home. I doubt Prince Charming is going to show up at this late hour."
Mentally cataloguing the scarce remains of leftover food in his fridge, Jesse nearly collided with Dr. Mark Sloan, the older man having just rushed into the doctorsí lounge.
"There you are. I was afraid you had already left for the day." Mark grabbed Jesseís arm and tugged him out into the hallway. "Steveís down in the ER yelling for you." The doctor held up a hand, halting Jesseís questions. "Nothing serious, just a few cuts and bruises. The problem isÖ MacCallum is on duty and Steve wonít let the man touch him. Says he doesnít like the way he looks at him."
Jesse frowned at Mark. "The way he looks at him?"
"Yes. Steve swears the man isÖ whatís the term? Making a move on him?" Mark winked at Jesse. "And since we both know my sonís got his eye on someone else, I thought it would make Steve more comfortable if MacCallum didnít work on him."
Jesse missed Markís wink, his mind grappling with the news that Steve was, once again, hot on the trail of another female. His thoughts then immediately switched to the fact that his friend was unhappy with the openly gay ER attending physician. Would Steve yell for someone else to treat his injuries if he knew I was just as gay and just as interested in him as MacCallum is?
Markís fingers snapped several times in front of his face and Jesse refocused his wandering attention. "Did you say something?"
The white haired man smiled. "Steveís waiting for you in Exam Room C. Let him know Iíll be back to check on him as soon as I finish rounds."
"Sure, no problem. Iíll tell him." Jesse watched Mark disappear down the hallway before turning to head in the direction of the ER. Stashing his gym bag under the counter of the nursesí station, he snagged Steveís chart and made his way to the room his friend had been brought to. After taking a calming breath, Jesse opened the door and stepped inside. "Another run-in with the bad guys, partner? Steve, youíve got to be more.Ö"
Jesse stopped talking abruptly, his words stalled as his breath caught in his throat. Stumbling back a step, he closed his eyes and shook his head. Not fair, God. This is not fair. Quietly closing the door, he spared a look toward heaven. How could you be so cruel? Do you enjoy tempting me with the one thing I want so very much and yet cannot have?
Struggling to control his emotions, Jesse hugged the chart he was holding to his chest. The man that haunted the dreams of his night and filled the thoughts of his day sat before him, totally unaware of how disturbing his shirtless form was. Watching the play of muscles across Steveís lower back, Jesse lifted his hand, the need to trail a finger along the waistband of Steveís pants nearly too much to resist. A groan from Steve and Jesse snatched his hand back, staring at the offending member in disbelief. Heís not yours to touch. Not now, not ever.
Another groan and Jesse found himself face to face with Steve, the detective having twisted around in search of him.
"Thank goodness Dad found ya, Jess. The last time I was here, MacCallum really gave me a hard timeÖ almost like he was coming on to me." Steve shuddered. "He just really made me feel uncomfortable and I would prefer not having him treat me."
The detective reached out and placed his hand on Jesseís arm. "I appreciate you doing this, Jess." With a nod of his head, he indicated the younger manís state of dress. "They told me you were finished for the day. I hope I didnít ruin any plans you might have had."
Dropping the chart he held on the exam table, Jesse stared at Steve's hand, wishing for more than just a friendly pat on the arm. "Itís no problem, Steve. I didnít have any plans."
Steve tightened his grip and pulled his friend closer. "You sure, Jess? I can put up with MacCallum if you have a special lady waiting for you."
Jesse inhaled deeply and fought against the urge to close the space between himself and Steve. "A lady? The only lady Iíve got plans with is Sarah Lee." He smiled faintly as he explained. "Thereís a half-eaten Sarah Lee cheesecake in the fridge and I plan to finish it off tonight while watching TV."
Steve shook his head and tskíd out loud. "I was positive you had a new lady in your life. The way youíve been working out at the gym and going straight home after your shift at the restaurantÖ I just thoughtÖ." He brushed his free hand across the front of Jesseís t-shirt. "Youíre really looking good, Jess. Sure you donít have a woman tucked away somewhere?"
"You think I look good?" Jesse stared at the detective, his gaze captured by Steveís blue eyes.
Steve smiled. "Ask any woman in this ER and Iím sure theyíll agree with me." He ran his hand across his friendís firm chest. "Yep. You are definitely looking good, Jesse."
"Can you give me just a second, Steve? I need to borrow a stethoscope." Jesse pulled free of the detectiveís grasp and nearly ran out of the exam room. Slipping next door into the deserted linen closet, he collapsed against the wall, dragging in one deep breath after another. Ignoring the fire in his groin, Jesse concentrated on bringing his emotions under control.
"One touch from Steve and Iím acting like a horny teenager. Shit!" Covering his face with his hands,
Jesse groaned, the sound low and agonized. "How pathetic can I get?"
Slamming his fist against the wall, Jesse welcomed the pain radiating up his arm, a temporary diversion from the pain in his heart. "This is ridiculous. Iím a doctor; heís my patient. Treat him and then get the hell out of here."
Taking one last deep breath, Jesse walked back into the exam room. "Sorry about that."
"Whereís the stethoscope," Steve asked. "Did someone distract you?"
Jesse offered a tight smile. "You could say that." Pulling a small treatment tray toward him, he bent to the task of dealing with Steveís various wounds. Silence reigned until Jesse moved to examine the detectiveís back.
"Damn, Steve! You are definitely going to be one sore puppy in the morning."
Jesse ran his hand over the large patch of discolored skin on his friendís left shoulder. Without conscious thought to his actions, he leaned down and gently kissed the bruised flesh, his fingers caressing the area his mouth worshipped.
"What the hell?" Steve twisted around and stared at him.
Jesse jerked back, a horrified sound of disbelief strangling in his throat. "Fuck!" Dropping the bottle of alcohol he had been holding, Jesse stumbled towards the door, his terrified gaze glued to the look of shock on Steveís face.
"Iím sorry. Iím so sorry." Repeating those words over and over, Jesse ran for the stairwell that led to the underground parking garage. He tripped as he slammed through the door and went tumbling down the first several steps. At the sound of Steveís approaching voice, he scrambled to his feet and took refuge in the shadowy alcove between the two sections of stairs. Wedging himself into the darkest part of the concrete enclosure, Jesse closed his eyes and held his breath.
"Come on, Jesse. I know you're in here. Jesse? Answer me!"
Unwilling to face the detectiveís wrath, Jesse curled even tighter upon himself. Iím sorry. Iím sorry. Iím sorry, he continued to whisper to himself.
MacCallumís voice startled Jesse.
"Whatís this I hear about you refusing to allow me to treat you in the ER?"
"Back off, MacCallum. Youíre not my type. And unless you want me to report you to your superior, Iíd suggest you donít touch me again. NowÖ if you donít mind, Iím on the hunt for someone."
Jesseís eyes flew open. Shit!
The moment Steve and the ER physician exited the stairwell, Jesse was out of his hiding place and flying down the stairs, taking two and three steps at a time. He hit the parking garage at a dead run.
"If the trafficís not bad, I can make it to my place, grab a bag and be gone in thirty minutes. Wonder if Amanda would like some company this weekend?" Jesse threw his car into gear and peeled out of the doctorís parking area, completely unaware of the man waving his arms and limping after him.
"Okay. Got my toothbrush and a change of clothes." Jesse checked the contents of his overnight bag. "Thank God, Iíve got this weekend off." He patted the pockets of his blue jeans. "Keys, wallet, cellphoneÖ I think thatís all." Looking at his watch, he grimaced. "Time to get the hell out of Dodge."
The shrill ring of his kitchen phone shattered the apartmentís quiet interior and Jesse nearly jumped out of his skin. His heart kicked into overdrive when he heard the answering machine click on, spilling Steveís voice into the silence.
"I know youíre there, Jesse. Pick up the phone."
Jesse froze, his eyes flickering back and forth, checking the shadows of the room.
The anger in Steveís voice galvanized Jesse into action. He grabbed up his overnight bag and ran for the door. Jerking it open, he barreled head first into Steve, causing the detective to drop his cellphone.
"Oh God! Iím so sorry." Jesse fell to his hands and knees and attempted to collect the pieces of his soon to be ex-friendís broken phone.
"Please forgive me, Steve. I donít know what made me do it." Jesse fumbled with the pieces that were scattered across the concrete stoop. "I didnít mean to do it, really. I know you donít like men, Steve. Iím so sorry. Please forgive me. Donít hate me. Iíll do anything to take backÖ."
Jesse cringed and ducked his head when he felt Steve grip his arms and haul him upright. His voice grew strident and he tried once again to apologize. "I truly am sorry, Steve. I swear Iíll never touch you again. If I do, you canÖ."
"Shut up, Jesse, and kiss me."
Jesseís eyes and mouth flew wide open. Before he could breathe or utter a word, his lips were captured by Steveís and fiercely kissed. Several seconds passed before the detective drew back and smiled at him.
"Steve?" Jesse shook his head. "Iím dead, right? No way in hell did you just kiss me. I must be deadÖ thatís the only explanation. I meanÖ you couldnít haveÖ."
Jesse looked up, a startled expression on his face at the touch of Steveís hand tangling in his hair. Without a word of protest, he allowed the older man to pull him closer.
"You talk too much, Jess. Just shut up and kiss me again."
The sound of his apartment door being kicked open and closed hardly registered with Jesse; he was too busy concentrating on the vision of Steve lowering his mouth to kiss him once more. His body willingly followed the detective as they stumbled their way to the living room couch. The brief kiss ended and Jesse stared disbelievingly at the man encouraging him to straddle his lower body.
"I truly have died. Is this heaven?" Jesse sighed as Steve gathered him close and nuzzled his neck, nipping a path to the sensitive area behind his ear.
"What do you think, Jesse? Does this feel like hell?" The detective tugged Jesseís t-shirt free of his jeans and slid his hands underneath.
A radiant smile broke across Jesseís face as his body arched into the hands exploring him. "Gotta be heaven. Most definitely. Can I stay here forever?" Whispered words caused him to lose his breath as his mouth was cherished with another kiss.
"Forever, Jess. Forever."
Check out Steve's POV in.... The Kiss of Enlightenment