I tried not to think about the fact that I could now recognize them by their hands. In the darkness, I felt a hand curl over my shoulder, a thumb pressed softly to the base of my neck, and I knew it was Thomas. It was good to know he was there, but when I didn’t feel a second-hand, I began to panic. Where was Brian?
Thomas must have felt me tense—or perhaps he was just getting to know me better than anticipated. His hand slid down my arm, his chin rested slightly on my shoulder, and in a whisper so quiet to almost be non-existent he said “Fine. Not here.” I waited until his thumb was back against my neck before I nodded to show I understood. Thomas gave me a soft squeeze, but then we stood still. Whatever was happening, we would have to wait it out.
We stood in the darkness for hours. I felt my knees start to buckle, and swayed on the spot. I was so tired. I’d spent so much time here, so much time afraid of what was going on–I couldn’t remember the last time I slept. Hell, I couldn’t remember the last time I actually sat down. I tried to stay still, but I swayed again. I felt Thomas squeeze my shoulder, then he pulled me back against his chest. He stayed perfectly still even as he settled my weight against him. “Rest.” He whispered, “I got some sleep–so rest.”
Normally, I would have refused. But I was so exhausted–so tired. I settled my weight back against his chest, and he put an arm around my stomach. I was asleep in seconds.
I woke up a couple of hours later on a cot. I panicked for a moment, laying perfectly still trying to figure out what was going on.
“It’s okay, you’re with friendlies.” It was Brian’s voice, so I opened my eyes. He was sitting in a chair by my bed. His right eye was swollen shut. He had stitches in his chin and forehead and bruises around his neck. “Thomas brought you here when the coast was clear. We’re safe here–at least for the time being.”
I sat up quickly, “Holy Hell, what happened to you?” Without even thinking about it I reached up and pressed a soft finger to the edge of the bruise under his eye. “Thomas and I need to have a serious discussion about the definition of ‘Fine.'” Brian sat perfectly still and let me touch his bruise carefully.
“Well, I think by fine he was trying to imply I wasn’t dead. I’m not dead, Irma.”
“That’s good. I’m glad you’re not dead.” I pulled my hand away and looked him in the eye. “What happened, Brian? What did you do?”
“Ran into Dean. I guess I got on his bad side a bit.” Brian smiled, lopped sided with the stitches and the swelling, “I’m really not sure what I did to make him so angry.”
I didn’t want to encourage him–but I laughed. It was a quiet laughed, muted in the same panic that I’d been in for weeks. It wasn’t a proper laugh. But it felt good to have a laugh anyway. He leaned in and kissed me carefully on the forehead. “I’m not letting you out of my sight again, Brian Sheenan, not if I can help it.”