What is Mine
~ Thirteen ~


After the fifth straight night of reliving his accident in vivid color, Stefan agreed to Dimitri's proposal. Stefan did not wish to endure another sweat soaked nightmare. Though truthfully, he did not endure them alone. He had awakened the first night to the feel of a cool female hand soothing his brow with a wet cloth. The shy young employee, under Dimitri's supervision, had sought to ease some of his physical discomfort.

Dimitri dismissed the woman with a quiet word of thanks, and then proceeded to sit at Stefan's bedside and distract his mind with talk of their days as teenage roommates at the exclusive Swithern Academy. Their conversations on subsequent nights had moved from topic to topic.

Stefan lay back against the pillows and reflected on all that Dimitri had done for him. It was not just past things done for Stefan at the time of the accident that had earned the other man his gratitude. Dimitri's current unemotional demeanor suited perfectly Stefan's inability to vocalize the wellspring of grief that swirled just below the surface of his calm veneer.

It was amazing that a seemingly casual bond formed in his youth would serve him so well in his hour of need.

Stefan reached out and lifted the hand mirror from the little table just beside the bed. Though his muscles were still pitifully weak, over the past five days his movements had become more steady. The violent trembling in his limbs was already beginning to lessen and the simplest movement no longer left him quite so spent and weary.

He looked into the mirror objectively. His hair had been cut and his goatee closely trimmed. Stefan did not delude himself that his body's almost skeletal state did not show plainly in his face. But something had happened after the careful attention to his grooming. He felt more like the man he was before that fateful accident.

“Good morning,” Stefan lowered the mirror and greeted the two men who stepped through the doorway. Dimitri Marrick - Count Andrasy, was accompanied by a darkly handsome man several years their younger. He was powerfully built and Stefan was struck by the definite impression that the man's muscles were not merely for show. “Thank you for coming at such short notice,” he told the stranger.

“Dimitri considers you a friend. It was all the incentive I needed to respond to his call,” the man said. He thrust a strong hand Stefan's way and the two men introduced themselves. “So…tell me what you've remembered these past days about your accident,” the young man instructed, taking a seat in a chair at the foot of the bed.

“First,” Stefan began, “what happened was no accident...”