“You’re obsessed with that scar,” Stephen said.
“It reminds me that you’re still alive, and that I’m lucky you are,” Nick murmured in return as his lips moved across the puckered skin that was the only remaining evidence of the arthropleurid sting. “And besides, I’m not obsessed with this scar – I’m obsessed with all your scars.” He moved lower, down Stephen’s arm to the pale line just below his elbow.
“Nick, I got that one when I fell out of a tree as an eight-year-old.”
“You were an adventurous so-and-so, even as a kid, weren’t you?” Nick said fondly.
“I believe my mother thought of me as a walking disaster area, actually.”
“I’d rather you weren’t thinking about your mother right now.” Nick moved lower still, smiling a little at the whimper Stephen made as he bypassed certain areas, and studied intently the rather larger scar on Stephen’s thigh.
“This one, though – this one reminds me that you saved my life once, and that’s why I’m still alive.”
Nick still remembered the day vividly. They’d been trekking through the jungle, following the course of a rain-swollen river, when suddenly the sodden path had crumbled away under Nick’s feet and he’d almost gone tumbling into the racing water. Only Stephen, throwing himself forward and catching Nick at the last second, had stopped Nick going to what was probably a watery grave. In the process a sharp bit of dead tree branch had gone straight through the material of his trousers and gouged a nasty cut in his thigh, which had left this rather impressive scar.
“You’d do the same for me, any day,” Stephen said.
“Of course I would,” Nick replied. He looked up into Stephen’s eyes, and for a moment they just stared at each other. Then Stephen grinned.
“Well, since I saved your life, don’t you think I should get a reward?”
“It was five years ago, Stephen,” Nick said, amused. “But what did you have in mind, exactly?”
Stephen made a pointed gesture at a certain part of his anatomy. Nick rolled his eyes and sighed the sigh of the immensely put-upon, but nonetheless moved back towards the indicated area.
“Anything for my saviour, I suppose.”