I woke up in an unfamiliar bedroom. I couldn’t make out much with the lights out. The sheets beneath me felt softer than the ones on my bed at home. Someone tucked the blankets in up to my armpits. A tube stuck out of my left arm. Careful not to pull on it, I sat up and looked where it went. The line connected me to a bag of liquid. I didn’t need to see the color to figure out it was blood. The last I remembered, I’d lost a lot of blood and couldn’t help Jim. Waking up at all seemed like good news and gave me hope he was okay. The muggers certainly wouldn’t have made me comfortable and given me a transfusion. Warm light flooded the room as the door opened.
“Dimitri, you’re up?” a familiar man asked. “Jim, he’s awake.”
The man stepped aside, and Jim’s silhouette filled the door frame. My lips curled into a smile automatically. My smile widened at his voice. “Dimitri?”
“I’ll call the doctor,” the other man said. My eyes adjusted enough to recognize Daniel as he walked back out of the room.
“Are you okay? How do you feel? Does anything hurt?” Jim asked. He reached the bed in two strides and knelt beside it, resting his hand on mine.
“Yes, not bad, and my head a little,” I answered. His serious face broke as he laughed. I carefully shifted to make room on the bed. “Get up off the floor.”
“Oh, um, thank you,” he said. He removed his hand from mine and sat on the edge of the bed, trying not to crowd me. I wanted to pull him closer but didn’t think I had the strength, so I took his hand in mine and held on as tight as I could instead.
“Making some room for you to sit is the least I can do after you saved me from bleeding out,” I said.
“So you remember everything?” he asked.
“I remember us leaving the bar and muggers attacking us, but it gets fuzzy after I got cut. Clearly, you stopped the bleeding and got me somewhere safe. Where are we, by the way?”
“This is my house,” Jim said. The concern returned to his expression. “I didn’t know if we should take you to the hospital or not. But Daniel knows a doctor who helped.”
“I think it would have been safe as long as they didn’t mess with my watch at all,” I said. “But I appreciate your caution, and you clearly did a great job.”
“I mostly just carried you around. Doctor Mulaki set up the transfusion,” he said.
“I’m sure you did more than that,” I disagreed and rubbed his arm with my other hand. “Thank you for taking care of me.”
“How long was I out for?” I asked.
“Sixteen hours,” he answered.
“Did you sleep for any of them?” I asked. He looked exhausted, even in this dim light.
“No, he didn’t,” Daniel confirmed. Neither Jim nor I noticed his return. “Mulaki will be here in the morning. He said you should try to eat something now that you’re awake.”
“Okay,” I said. Jim shifted to get off the bed.
“I’ll bring something,” Daniel said before Jim could stand up.
“Thank you,” I said and held onto Jim’s hand to keep him from arguing. He looked worried as he watched Daniel leave. “What’s wrong?”
“He hasn’t said what he wants for helping yet,” Jim whispered.
“I’m sure a trip to the kitchen won’t rack up the price,” I said, doing my best not to sound concerned. I’d give Daniel his order of new watches for free if he wanted. But that could wait until I’d eaten and Jim rested.
“I hope you like Flavish cheese. It seems we caught Jim between market runs,” Daniel said, returning with a cheese sandwich.
“That’s fine,” I said. Despite my last meal being nearly a day ago, I didn’t feel hungry. Daniel handed Jim the plate.
“I’ll come back in the morning. Try to make him get some sleep,” Daniel requested.
“I will,” I told him.
“I’ll be right back. I’m just going to lock up behind him,” Jim said.
I let him go, and he handed me the plated sandwich. As soon as I took the first bite, my body remembered how hungry it was. I’d finished the sandwich before Jim got back. He took the plate and returned with a second sandwich. I ate that one only moderately slower. After I finished the glass of water Jim brought with my second sandwich, my stomach calmed down. He took my plate and glass, this time only bringing back the refilled glass. I sipped it and set it on the nightstand. Jim turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“You should try to get more rest before the doctor comes in the morning,” he said, not actually answering my question.
“So should you. I promised Daniel that I’d make sure you slept. I can’t be certain if you leave,” I said, unsure where I found the daring.
“Can’t be more comfortable than this bed. There’s plenty of room. Lie down, Jim,” I interrupted, knowing I’d lose my nerve if he’d finished that sentence. Nothing had to happen between us. I just didn’t want to be alone.
“Okay,” he agreed.
Jim unbuttoned his shirt and took it to the closet across the room. The undershirt hugged his body tight, and I saw the definition of his pectoral muscles beneath as he closed himself in. For the first time since waking up, I realized I wasn’t wearing my clothing. Someone swapped them for a shirt several sizes too big and cotton pants with the drawstrings pulled tight and tied to ensure they wouldn’t slip off if I stood up. Had I soiled my clothes? I hoped not. No, they were covered in blood. Jim would have changed me to protect his sheets. Jim stepped back out of the closet, cutting off my train of thought. He’d removed everything but his undershirt and underwear. Suddenly, sleep was the last thing on my mind.
“You get hot in your sleep?” I asked, forcing myself to look up from his muscular legs to his face.
“Yeah, I hope this is okay. I’ve tried sleeping with more layers but can’t get comfortable,” he said, coming around to the other side of the bed.
As he lifted the sheets, I hoped he didn’t notice the way my body reacted to his. I’d been bold enough to get this far, but my tenacity failed me. Jim slid between the covers. I hadn’t been wrong about us both fitting in the bed, but our shoulders pressed against each other as he shifted beneath the blanket. I crossed my arm over his and entwined my fingers with his. He didn’t pull back; our magic sparked with the now-familiar warmth. I looked at him, trying to think of the perfect words. He faced me, and his other hand reached up. He tucked a bit of hair behind my ear, and I realized I’d never find the words. Instead, I leaned closer to him, hoping he’d meet me halfway.