Waking Up

She woke in a bed, an unfamiliar bed, and when she looked out the window, there was fog and strings of lanterns in red and gold, burnt orange and bronze, crimson and copper. She shuddered, rubbing her eyes, looking around in hopes of learning what happened.

“The last thing I remember,” she said aloud, and winced to hear the sound of her voice, rough with disuse, or maybe over use. Either way, it sounded like shit and hurt like hell. “The last thing I remember is…” She frowned, struggling, closing her eyes against the sight of the lanterns, the sight of the unfamiliar room around her, as though looking at all of it were keeping her from remembering anything in her recent past, as though the sight of it were filling up what she was trying to examine from memory.

“The office?” she asked no one but the room. “The office,” she said, biting her lip. “There was a fire. Oh, fuck,” she whispered, the words breathed aloud. She opened her eyes then, looking around the room, her expression nearly terror. Her navy eyes locked with his too-blue ones, and she realized he stood in the doorway (how long had he been standing in the doorway?) watching her.

His voice was that same low, sharp sadness she’d heard earlier, but the edge had been dulled — she could nearly smell the whisky from where she was.

“Food’s nearly done. Shower’s yours if you want it. Clean clothes’re there. You don’t want to get up yet, though.”

He nodded to a bag on a chair across the room, but didn’t really move, just kept his eyes on her face. For a moment, she thought he was being awkwardly direct, and then she realized he was purposefully not looking at her body as she pulled away her covers, which was sort of good in that she was in her last clean pair of underpants, a small spot of blood and ash smearing the hip being the only addition from when she’d put them on that morning, and an old, small men’s Tshirt, not hers, but clean, at least, and so, no, not naked, but definitely infinitely more awkward than she’d hoped.

Her face flushed as she realized he’d gotten her mostly naked, and she said tightly, “Where’re the rest of my clothes? The ones I was wearing, at least?”

“Cut ’em off you to deal with bandages and stitches,” he said, and she saw him as he lifted a glass to his lips and drained it, then let his hand drop back near his thigh as he leaned in the doorway. “Weren’t much left of ’em anyway,” he grunted.

When she moved to sit up, discomfited at the idea of stitches, of the violence of being disrobed while naked, held, vulnerable, the reaction from him was swift, startling. She could feel the sudden pull at her ribs, her thigh, and her head swam, and then he was there, teeth bared, eyes too-blue. “Said you didn’t want to get up yet,” he growled, one hand gently at her shoulder, to lay her back down. “Fucking pull out your stitches, Jones, and it was hard enough getting ’em in there the first time.”

Her head swam; the pain was murky and distanced. “You drugged me?” she wondered.

“Only t’keep from hearing y’scream,” he grunted. “Go back t’sleep,” he said, his expression softening. “At least for another little while, yeah?”

She wanted to argue, wanted to fight, wanted to ask more questions, wanted to figure it out, but even his grunted, half-demanding suggestion seemed like a fantastic idea in the face of pain and blood and confusion. She nodded, and her eyes fluttered shut as she sank back into the pillow, one that smelled like smoke and heat and something terribly, wonderfully familiar.

About Catastrophe Jones

Wretched word-goblin with enough interests that they're not particularly awesome at any of them. Terrible self-esteem and yet prone to hilarious bouts of hubris. Full of the worst flavors of self-awareness. Owns far too many craft supplies. Will sing to you at the slightest provocation.
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