I moved towards him so fast that I all but crashed into him. But he hugged me and I melded into him and I let myself admit everything. “I love you, Thom. I have since we were about six but I never wanted to say anything because I knew that we didn’t have time for that kind of nonsense, I knew that we’d spending the rest of our lives fighting for our lives, but for the first time I really almost lost you Thom, and I never want to go through that again, not with laying it all out on the line. Not without you knowing everything. Please, don’t leave, don’t go, don’t do that again.” I was sobbing now, but I couldn’t remember starting to cry. I felt Thomas’s hands and arms move carefully, supporting me, comforting me, half carrying me back to the couch. Some small silly part of my brain understood that if we were sitting there, Brian had fled. Not that I could really blame him, I’d gone from fine to insane in about three seconds flat. I’d flee from me to if that were an option.
But Thomas, for his credit, didn’t seemed to be freaking out. He looked at me in a way I don’t remember him ever looking at me before. He was so calm, so careful, and seemed so–at peace? This was a man who had literally just gotten home from war, where he had been held capture. Where he had been tortured. He should have been all kinds of not calm–but he looked at peace.
“Nessie,” he said the nick name that only he could get away with. “Nessie,” he repeated, this time almost like a sigh. “Nessie,” a third time, and suddenly I understood. I looked him in the eye and I could see what he was trying to say.
“I’m just so glad you’re home,” I told him.
It was his turn to crash into me, pulling me into a hug so tight that I almost couldn’t breathe, but I didn’t dare say anything. I never wanted him to let me go. I never wanted to be without him.
But he did let me go. He carefully released me, slowly, bit by bit, like he could only convince himself to break contact with me centimeter by centimeter. He let his hands slide down my arms though, so that at the end we sat facing each other, holding hands. “Nessie, I can’t right now.” He admitted weakly, “I want to. I want you. And I’ve been dreaming of a day like this my entire life but–”
“Stop.” I said, perhaps a little sharper than I meant to, “Stop making excuses, stop feeling guilty. Whatever it is you need to do, do it. I said my piece. Take your time. I’m not going anywhere. We can do, or not do, at your pace.”
Thomas lifted our joined hands up to his lips and kissed my knuckle gently. “I’m going to go, Ness. I need to talk to Brian and Ciara, and the council. And then I need a healthy dose of sedatives and about three days of dreamless sleep. But, I’ll come and find you, all right? The very first second that I can, I’ll come and find you. And we’ll figure us, whatever we are, the first moment I can.”
I didn’t trust myself to speak, so I just nodded. Thomas kissed my knuckle again, before letting his hand drop away from mine. He pushed himself up to his feet, and walked out of the room. I tried very, very hard not to think. About him, about me, about anything. I laid back against the couch, and let myself fall asleep right then and there.