The bed wasn’t very soft and the sheets were thin and kind of scratchy; it certainly wasn’t her bed. The air felt too cold against her chest and hands, not the rest of her; just her chest and hands. For some reason she could feel every small air current far more vividly over her chest, it wasn’t comfortable. She figured it was time to wake up, but she hated it; waking up that is. When being asleep and awake are the same thing the only relief she got from the world were those precious few moments between awake and asleep. In those few moments things stopped being real, everything stopped; the world wasn’t being controlled. Lisbeth opened her eyes.
“Is it really?”
“No, it is about four in the afternoon.”
Lisbeth glanced over at the man leaning against the window apparently reading from a trashy paperback. He looked to be in his late forties early fifties, and wore a perfectly tailored suit. The most notable feature was of course the tattoo covering his entire face. It was a single thorny vine tied to itself in hundreds of unique knots; the tattoo marked him as an Arlethian high priest. The only religion that had been blessed by their gods with the magic of healing were the Arlethian’s and they guarded it jealously. The more advanced healing was only taught to the high priests like the man in the window.
“You should have told me you were going to make me your emergency contact.”
“Sorry it must have slipped my mind, glad you could make it.”
“Of course I came, can’t have a member of the squad off sick. We have piracy to commit and it’s all hands on deck.
“How am I?”
“It wasn’t good Lisbeth, you need to stop dealing with dangerous people. They were afraid to give you any drugs because of the unknown I.V. They had no idea what to do with you, apart from the holes in you hands there wasn’t much they could fix until they arranged some kind of skin graft. You had all of your organs shutting down due to massive blood loss and they still don’t know how bad the potential brain damage could have been; I can’t heal that.”
“How am I?”
“Fine, I fixed you up good. The new skin is going to be sensitive and dry out easily so you might want to use some kind of lotion for the next couple of days. Also you don’t appear to have any brain damage You can go to your dorm tonight if you want to, or I have a hotel room if you don’t want to go back.”
“No point putting things off, I will go to the dorm tonight and deal.”
“Ok, I will go deal with your discharge paperwork. Someone should be by to tell you when you can leave.”
“No problem, also there is a girl in the lobby who has been here the whole time should I send her in?”
Typical, he hadn’t even asked about the circumstances surrounding her injuries. That might have been why they became friends instead of a normal client relationship; that and he was really good at setting up ambushes. Lisbeth hadn’t expected him to look quite that old, he always sounded much younger on voice chat or saw himself younger in dreams. Contingencies within contingencies really, she had needed an Arlethian, and was glad she liked the one she found. Sinclair was going to need an explanation for why she had a high priest as her emergency contact, she was temped to tell him it was their gaming buddy.
A short time later a nurse came in carrying a pair of grey sweatpants and a hoodie both bearing the hospital’s logo. She was closely followed by Nerissa who was now free of her bruises; Crimson probably had taken care of them on his way out. The nurse gave Lisbeth a couple discharge forms and informed her that the hospital would like to keep her overnight for observation. Lisbeth refused, there was nothing that a hospital could do for her that a Arlethian high priest couldn’t do better; if he said she was fine than she was.
Nerissa hadn’t said anything during the exchange with the nurse, or when Lisbeth signed the papers; she just stood silently in the corner. Lisbeth, after confirming that the nurse had shut the door before leaving, pulled herself into a sitting position with her legs over the side of the bed. Lisbeth then pulled the strings keeping the thin hospital gown tied and allowed it to fall to the floor. Nerissa gave a small gasp and Lisbeth didn’t blame her, Lisbeth’s entire chest and abdomen were pink; the pink of raw, exposed, living, sensitive flesh. The room was entirely too cold to be naked especially with her chest in it’s current condition.
“Nerissa, could you help me put on my pants?”
Nerissa walked forward slowly; Lisbeth would normally have accused her of wanting a longer look. This however wasn’t the time, and Nerissa looked far too apprehensive as she nibbled on her lower lip. Why was she so nervous? Think, what is new, what has changed? She hasn’t seen me completely naked yet, but that wouldn’t get this response. Mind shielded, can’t let her in; not yet. I got hurt, but that wasn’t her fault. Doesn’t matter she wanted to protect me, I let her think she could; shit. How do I fix this? It wasn’t her fault, there was nothing anyone could do. Distract her from the issue and let her know I don’t blame her. How?
“Nerissa?” Lisbeth spoke haltingly “I don’t want to be alone tonight, can I stay with you?”
It seemed to work, at least momentarily Nerissa looked hopeful and gave a dazzling smile. Why, such a change? Why was she so apprehensive? Damn, she really does like me doesn’t she; why does that idea make me feel like this. What do I even feel, I don’t recognize this, no frame of reference. Shit, that damn dragon was right, it really wasn’t up to me.
“Of course you can.”
Nerissa leaned down slowly to kiss Lisbeth, but Lisbeth didn’t want to wait. She pulled Nerissa into a tight embrace ignoring her screaming skin and started kissing Nerissa far more aggressively than she normally would have dared. Lisbeth didn’t know how long the kiss lasted, or when tears started rolling down her cheeks; she did notice when one of her hands ended up under Nerissa’s shirt.