|Love is Worth Dying For
Author: BagpipeHeadache PM
I went back to do some revising and editing...and added some new twists...Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Deryn S. & Alek F. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 16,850 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 07-13-11 - Published: 06-05-11 - id: 7055187
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Love Found at Death's Door
"Mr. Sharp!" Deryn jumped at the sound of the coxswain's voice.
"Your assistance has been requested on the dorsal crank. Bring the boy prisoner with you. End message."
The lizard scampered away across the airship's flank as Deryn gazed back down at her sketchpad. Drawn on its white surface was a quick sketch of Alek sitting at the controls of the starboard engine. Deryn had become so mesmerized with capturing every possible detail of the Austro-Hungarian prince that she hadn't seen the lizard run up beside her. Chuckling at herself, she stood on the Leviathan's taught surface, pulling tight against the harness that she'd attached to the rigging. Standing this way, the hills and fields of Germany rolled past directly in front of her. Deryn reckoned they were a few thousand feet up at least, but the airship was slightly closer to the ground than it had been a while ago. So they were descending…
Wondering what Mr. Rigby had planned for her and Alek at the dorsal crank was beyond her, but she thought it probably had something to do with their descent.
"We seem to be losing altitude young master," Klopp said.
"And so we are." Alek replied. "How's the carburettor, Hoffman?" A bang and a string of curses emitted from the back of the engine pod as Hoffman basically pulled his head out of the engine block, his face smeared with engine grease.
"Should be a few more minutes of adjustment, sir."
Alek caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and turned to witness Dylan bounding down the Leviathan's flank. Their eyes met, and the midshipman pointed at Alek and indicated for him to follow. Alek raised his arm, expressing 'why'. "Mr. Rigby!" Dylan shouted at him. At recognizing the coxswain's name, he told Klopp to stay at the controls, then fastened himself onto the rigging.
"Thank you for finally showing up gentlemen." Rigby said.
"You're welcome," Deryn said mockingly. Normally she wouldn't joke around like that, but today she was feeling unexplainably giddy. She glanced at Alek, and the giddiness, jumped up again.
"As you can see to my left, there is a Huxley waiting to take a passenger up." Deryn followed the man's indication, and, sure enough, there was one of the beasties floating gracefully next to the ship. But this Huxley looked different…almost, old and decrepit. Its skin had a very pale gray hue to it, and it didn't seem to be as taught as the others. "Today is this particular Huxley's last mission, which is why we've chosen you, Sharp, to go up in it. You are our lightest middy, after all."
"What's the reason, sir?" Deryn asked.
"Well, if you haven't noticed his absence already, Newkirk's been skulking around down there to check for any anti-aircraft artillery in those old barns."
Deryn had been wondering why she hadn't seen Newkirk that much recently. He was on the ground, spying on the bloody Germans!
"Today was the decided pick up day, and he will be sending up a flare within the hour to mark his location."
"And you want me to look for it, sir." Deryn finished for the coxswain.
"And what of me?" Alek asked, "Why was I requested too?"
"We're going to teach you how to operate the crank. It's actually quite simple, and there's not much teaching, or talent, involved anyway."
Deryn strapped herself into the Huxley's harness, the old leather creaking as it held her weight. This one has to be the oldest beastie in the whole bloody air corps. She thought to herself as she gazed through the field glasses. How did the command entrust Newkirk with this monumental task anyhow? The boy could hardly remember to tie his own boots, but he was down there spying on the Germans? The coxswain hadn't even bothered to tell Deryn what colour the flare was either, which didn't help because the Germans would shoot phosphorous flares into the air at the airbeast on occasion.
A flicker in the edge of her vision caught her attention. She swept the field glasses over to behold a green flare, probably from a hand-held flare gun, rise into the air. She followed the smoke trail down to the top of a small, rocky knoll adjacent to a lightly forested area.
"Great job Newkirk! The Germans most certainly won't notice a barking green flare!" She said to herself. The Germans were all using red flares at the time, so Newkirk stuck out like a tree in a flower garden.
Suddenly the ancient beastie she was suspended from performed a sickeningly large lurch downwards. "Calm down beastie, it's only a flare." Deryn said flatly. But the pulsing she had felt from all other healthy Huxleys was gone… Had this one just died?
She heard a sound similar to that of running water, and smelled the familiar bitter-almond scent of hydrogen leaking…
Alek had been watching the green flare in the distance fly up past the ship's flank. The coxswain had instructed him on the crank's use, but was called to the bridge as soon as the flare had been set off, leaving Alek alone on the ship's skin.
Suddenly, the crank at his side began creek. He glanced at it, then up at Dylan in the Huxley. It looked under inflated…too under inflated. It was losing altitude! Dylan spun in the harness, making cranking motions at Alek. So that's what the boy did. But the beastie was falling too fast! Cranking as fast as he could, he looked back over his shoulder. He wasn't going to make it!
Then he heard a snapping noise. He quickly looked down at the rope connecting Dylan to the ship. It was torn and frayed. Alek looked back over his shoulder. The beastie was free-falling! It passed out of view. The crank had pulled the rope taught on the front, but under, the rope was falling off of the mechanism. Well that's not doing any good! Alek thought.
In a blur, the rope snapped off the crank and somehow wrapped itself around Alek's ankle. He was immediately pulled off his feet, and was being dragged over the side! He grappled for any rigging that he could hold on to. He caught one, but was pulled off. Suddenly he was falling free of the ship, away from safety, and possibly his life…
Deryn awoke to a raging headache. All she could remember was cutting the bottom of the dead Huxley open to make a make-shift parachute whilst tumbling towards the ground. She was alive, so apparently it worked. She noticed that her head was bobbing up and down slightly, and she turned her head a bit to see Alek's face. He was lying unconscious on his back, and Deryn's head had somehow come to rest on his chest. She decided not to stir, and just let the beauty of the moment sink in. She had always wanted to be here, pressed up against the Austro-Hungarian prince in such a way that it was almost cuddling. But she hadn't even told him who she was yet, and she imagined the crew's reaction if this ever happened on the ship.
On that note…where was the ship? The airbeast was nowhere to be seen in the clouding sky. It was a fast ship, but it wasn't that fast, prompting Deryn to wonder how long they'd been lying here.
Soon, Alek began to stir, and Deryn closed her eyes to feign unconsciousness. The prince took a deep breath, then coughed. He seemed to freeze as he noticed Deryn lying on him.
He nudged her shoulder, "Hey Dylan, you alive?"
Deryn faked a groan. "Aye…my head feels like a beastie's sittin' on it though." She said as she sat up.
All around her where the scattered remains of the Huxley, rigging, and a few parts of the crank.
"Bloody hell," she said.
"Bloody hell's right," Alek said, rising to his knees. Deryn un-strapped herself from her frayed leather harness, then stood slowly.
"You hurt anywhere?" She asked. Alek was still on his knees, staring at the ground.
"I don't think so, but I landed on my back."
"Aye, that tends to happen when someone falls." Deryn said mockingly. Alek just chuckled. A metallic glint caught Deryn's attention. She stumbled over to find her rigging knife, stuck blade-first into the grass-covered ground. She pulled it out, cleaned the blade on her trousers, then said, "And may I present to you the hero of the day!" She held it above her head.
Alek was on his feet by now. "It was you behind it, was it not? It's useless without you." Deryn shrugged-off the compliment.
"I suppose you have a point." She looked around.
They were in the middle of a suspiciously well-trimmed field of grass. To their left, a faded, wooden fence separated the field from a straight, cobblestone road that stretched for miles in front and behind the teens. Still to the left of that, a thick forest of tall, green pine trees followed the road as far as the eye could see. To their right, in the middle of the cultivated field was a small farmhouse adjacent to a large unpainted barn.
"I would be inclined to believe that farmer's not home." Alek said.
"How can you tell?" Deryn asked.
"There are no vehicles near the house or barn. And this doesn't seem like the place that one would walk to the local market." Deryn followed his gaze. Sure enough, there were no vehicles to behold.
"I assume you have a plan, then?"
Alek smiled at her. "Of course, but don't worry; I've done this before."
By the time they reached the barn, the clouds had blotted out the sun. It was almost guaranteed to rain, but Alek doubted the presence of lightning. He wondered how long they'd be stuck down here, in the heart of his enemies' land. Even though Austria-Hungary was allied with the Germans, he still considered them his personal enemy. After all, they had tried to kill him.
Alek shivered a bit as the wind picked up. Slipping his arms into the sleeves of the farmer's long coat he walked inside the barn, where he found Dylan buttoning the spats on his boots. "I must say, you'd make a fine farmer's son." Alek said.
"Oh sod off. I can't understand half the buttons and ties on this stupid uniform!"
Dylan had kept his midshipman collared shirt and tie on, wearing over it a brown waistcoat, overlapped by a long farmer's coat much like Alek's, which was tied off at the waist by a red sash. His baggy tan trousers stolen from the farmer's wardrobe billowed at the bottom as they were stuffed into his tall boots. His rigging knife was also holstered in his right boot.
"Best we get moving?" Alek asked as Dylan stood.
"Wait a moment, I found something that we might need." And with that, he ascended a ladder that Alek hadn't even noticed until now.
"What is it?" Alek asked.
"You mean, what are they." Alek heard the lid of a trunk lift open, and some familiar clicking noises soon emitted from the upper level. Dylan's head appeared over the edge. "Catch!" he said, dropping something at Alek. His arms closed around the object. A gun belt! In it's leather holster was a shining black Steyr semi-automatic pistol. On the black leathered belt hung six clips full of ammunition. Just who was this farmer?
Dylan descended the ladder. He didn't look armed, but he opened his coat to reveal two formidable looking revolvers.
"The Colt forty-five, 'The Gun That Won The West'." He said as he pulled one out of the shoulder holster and spun the cylinder. "I love these things. My da had about four of 'em. By the way," he reached into his coat pocket, " I also found these." He handed Alek a small collection of gold coins.
"We could stay at an inn with this!" he said.
"Let's get moving then."
They hopped over the waist-high fence and onto the road. On the way there, Alek had laid out some plans about how they were going to go into town and find a place to stay for the night. Their cover story was that they were a couple of students on their way into town.
Seemed simple enough, although Alek had said that he would do all the talking. It was probably a good idea, Deryn reckoned. They wouldn't want her ruining their cover because she tried to talk to somebody.
As she walked along beside Alek, she wondered how they were going to pull this outrageous plan off. How would they get back home? And if anybody figured out who Alek was, what would happen to them? Would she ever see him alive again? She tried to shake-off the questions; they'd get through this.
Then a fact dawned on her: she still hadn't told him about her secret. If they were found out, she might not ever be able to, either. She resolved to tell him today; if she worked up enough courage, she'd tell him as they walked down the road into town. If they were headed toward a town, that is. They had chosen to follow the path of an old walker filled with ragged and dirty looking labourers. They had been talking about what they were going to buy once they got to town, mostly new clothing or shoes, but all had mentioned a hot meal.
The sound of galloping hooves interrupted her thoughts. She and Alek turned to look over their shoulders. Riding up behind them was a group of about seven German mounted cavalry soldiers. Their pointed, steel helmets shone, even in the dark and clouded weather. Their grey uniforms were broken only by their shiny black riding boots.
"Uh oh," Alek said, "Here comes trouble."
They both took a step to the right, and stood against the fence, as if to let the riders pass by on the narrow road. But the officer at the head of the group raised his right hand and shouted, "Halt!" The group brought their steeds to a stop in a semi-circle around the duo, pinning them against the fence.
The officer spoke from the centre of the half circle, "Wohin gehen Sie?"
Where are you going. Deryn thought. Alek responded to him in German. From what Deryn could pick up, he said that they were just some students headed to town. The Germans exchanged amused glances with each other, then the officer chuckled through his nose and spoke again. The familiar words to Deryn illustrated that they were headed in completely the wrong direction.
"Die stadt ist so." the officer said, and pointed to his right. Alek and Deryn followed the indication, then Alek said something about being lost.
"Ist dieses zutreffende?" the officer asked Deryn.
Is this true? She nodded and said "Ja." The officer lifted an eyebrow, and Deryn's heart leapt. Had she said it wrong? Did the officer notice her voice? His eyes scanned every fibre of her stolen farmer's clothing, stopping at the slight bulges in her coat where the guns lay holstered.
"Was ist dieses?" the officer asked, patting his uniform in the same area.
What is this? Deryn just stared back. The officer asked again. Out of the corner of her eye, Deryn saw three of the riders make a move toward their flapped holsters.
"Oh damn it!" she shouted.
Her hands flew to the handles of the revolvers, and she whipped them out in a cross-draw. She fired once at the officer, knocking the spike off his helmet and startling his horse, which reared up on its hind legs, throwing him off.
These buggers haven't been sighted! Deryn thought to herself. She'd have to estimate the shots.
She saw Alek draw his pistol, which he then fired, hitting one of the soldiers in the chest. The man fell to the ground and lay still, blood beginning to seep to the front of his uniform. The other steeds had begun to whinny, and their riders tried to control them. A couple just jumped off their horses, sending them galloping away. Deryn fired both pistols at a soldier who had done just that. He already had his Mauser out, but never was able to fire, as Deryn's aim had been true. Both bullets struck the man in the chest, knocking him back a few feet and to the ground. He didn't get back up.
Suddenly, a shot from one of the Germans smacked the pistol right out of Deryn's left hand. "Cripes!" she exclaimed as she pulled her hand back. She turned to fire back, but Alek had already emptied four rounds into him. He stumbled backwards with a shout. Alek fired once more, hitting the man in the shoulder, sending him spinning to the ground. Deryn fired at another German that was aiming at Alek, who was reloading. The bullet passed through his skull, clanking on the back of his helmet as it exited. The man next to him drew a knife, and intended to throw it.
Not smart! Deryn thought to herself. She fired once, hitting him in the trachea. The German's eyes widened, and he dropped his knife to cover his wound just as dark red began to stream from it. He stumbled and fell to the ground, writhing.
Then one of the German guns went off, and Alek let out a cry, clutching at his abdomen. The officer had shaken off the fall from his horse, and drew his Mauser, which now smoked from the barrel.
"Alek!" Deryn screamed, not caring to disguise her voice as Alek dropped to a kneel.
Suddenly, one of the Germans was upon her, tearing the gun from her grasp. This one was young, not much older that Deryn, and the fear showed in his eyes.
Deryn drew her rigging knife, saying, "Ich bin traurig!" as it plunged into the young German's gut.
I'm sorry! Their eyes met, and Deryn's began to fill with tears. He grunted once, then fell to the ground as Deryn pulled her knife back, her hand covered in his blood.
She felt something hit her right between the shoulder blades with enough force to send her to her knees. The officer had pistol-whipped her! She whirled around with her knife, slicing across the man's chest. He stumbled backward and hit the ground, tripping over his own feet. Deryn regained her footing, rushing at the German, her knife primed for the kill. She got to within arms reach of the downed enemy.
Suddenly, the German had his pistol aimed right at her! Deryn swung desperately at the weapon, trying to knock it out of his hand.
"Son of a-!"
He pulled the trigger.
She felt something kick her hard in the abdomen, and she doubled over, dropping her knife. She coughed twice, then pulled her hand away from herself. It was covered with her lifeblood.
The officer propped himself up on his elbow, his gun barrel smoking. Their eyes met, and his face turned into a snarl.
He fired twice more. The first striking Deryn in the bottom of her ribcage on her right side, and the second tore through her shoulder. She stumbled and fell backward after the last bullet ripped out the back of her jacket. Deryn's head impacted the cobblestone street, causing her to see stars for an instant.
"Dylan!" Alek was to her left now; he attempted to stand.
The officer fired once more.
A bloody hole was shred through Alek's pants, just above the knee. Deryn heard a sickening crack immediately after the bullet had passed through his joint, and Alek hit the ground hard, grasping his leg.
Deryn tried to take a breath to shout for Alek, but an excruciating pain stabbed at her chest. She managed a ragged gasp, causing her to cough up a mouth full of blood. It drained out the sides of her mouth as she struggled to breath again.
Tears flooded her eyes.
So this is how Deryn Sharp will come to an end? She thought to herself.
She needed to tell Alek. If not, she would die without him knowing the love she had welled up inside of her for him. She covered the wound in her abdomen with her right arm, barely able to move it because of the pain. She tried to sit up. As she did, she felt her bottom rib snap, plunging itself into her lung. She shouted out in agony as she dropped back down to the ground, blood flooding her mouth. Spitting it out, she glanced to her left, where Alek lay.
"A…Alek," She managed to say, "There's…something I need to tell you."
Suddenly, the German officer was standing over her, pistol in hand, his face betraying no emotion.
She quickly turned back to face Alek, the tears running down her face, and said, "He's *sob* going to kill me!"
Alek's eyes widened.
"You' Refolgendes!" the officer said, pointing the gun in Alek's direction.
Deryn took another ragged gasp, then began: "My name isn't Dylan Sharp. My real n-name is Deryn." She looked into his confused eyes.
The officer ejected the used, smoking clip from his pistol. It made a horrible clacking noise as it bounced on the cobblestone street.
"Alek…I-I'm a girl…"
"I *gasp*…snuck into the air core as a boy…"
The officer shoved a new clip into the gun.
The German pulled back the slide, and let it go.
"B-before I die…I just want you to know…that…*gasp*…I-I love you."
Realization finally crept over Alek's face. Deryn stretched out a bloody and trembling hand to him. He stretched out his bloody and trembling hand to take hers, but he was just out of reach. He laid down on his side, and there hands met for the first time in love. The same tingling sensation that she felt whenever they made contact shot back up Deryn's arm. She managed a smile.
"Goodbye…Alek." She wept as she turned to look at the German standing over her. He raised his pistol, aiming at her head.
The kill shot.
She met eyes with him, and he smiled. A dastardly, evil smile. This man was truly a monster.
Raindrops began to fall from the sky, almost as if the sky were weeping for her. She saw the officer pulling tighter on the trigger.
Deryn Sharp took one last ragged breath, and closed her eyes…
She waited for the nothingness, but it never came. Had the German missed? The shot did have a different sound to it…almost far off, and from something larger.
She allowed her eyes to open back up.
The officer was still standing there, frozen in his death-delivering stance. But there was something different about him…a hole the size of Deryn's fist had been punched through his chest, blood already beginning to cumulate around the wound. Their eyes met again. He furrowed his eyebrows, as if he were frowning with confusion at something. He opened his mouth, as if to say something, but no sound escaped his lips. Then his eyes glazed over; the pistol dropped out of his hand, and he slumped to the ground to Deryn's right.
Deryn released a blood hacking breath. She turned her gaze to Alek. He was looking away, their hands still gripping each other. She gave his a shake, and he turned his eyes to meet hers. They seemed to be full of astonishment. Deryn reckoned hers did too; who had saved their lives?
She soon got an answer.
From a long way off behind where the German officer had been standing came a shout, "Sharp!" Deryn knew in an instant who it was, no matter how much she couldn't fathom it.
"N…Newkirk…." she whispered hoarsely.
It was true. The clumsy, jumpy, son of a Monkey Luddite , derpy, and unassuming Newkirk, had just saved Deryn's life with a shot from so far away, that it took him ages to sprint over to the two lying in pools of their own blood in the middle of a strange German cobblestone street.
He dropped a rather large looking rifle to the ground, and kneeled in front of Deryn. "I saw the whole damn thing! Where did you learn to shoot like that?" Newkirk's voice was slightly deeper than it had been, prompting Deryn to wonder if he was the same person she'd known since she came aboard the Leviathan.
She smiled as she said, "My da…loved guns as much as flying, so he…would teach me with…*gasp*…both."
Deryn began to shiver involuntarily; she was going into shock.
"I see," said Newkirk as he pulled two signal flags out of his coat. Deryn noticed a dark shape loom into view over Newkirk's shoulder.
"Is that the Leviathan?"
"Aye, and they're going to pick us up." He turned and waved the flags over his head a few times, until the ship flashed its signal lights, indicating it was ready to receive a message. Newkirk went through some movements. Deryn tried to watch, but she began to fade in and out of consciousness. From what she could make out though, he was telling the ship that there were two wounded, both in critical condition.
He turned to Deryn, "Everything's going to be all right; they've begun their descent."
A wave of light headedness washed over Deryn, and she blacked out.
When she came to, the Leviathan was so close to the ground that she couldn't see any of the rain dispensing sky. Two gurneys were being lowered toward them. She started to fade again, but she fought to stay coherent.
A gurney landed softly on the soaked ground next to her. Newkirk gently half-lifted, half-dragged her on to it; her hand slipped away from Alek's.
She whimpered in pain and her eyes clamped shut as her body was shifted. "It hurts…so much…"
"But you're still alive. And you need to stay that way." Newkirk said as he gently strapped her in.
"Aye, but keep Alek that way too…" She looked over; Alek had dragged himself onto his gurney.
He glanced at Deryn, and smiled, "See you at the top?"
"You…better be there."
Newkirk set Alek's straps as well, then made wheeling motions with his arms. The great airbeast's crew began to haul up their comrades.
"Tell them that only Dr. Barlow and Dr. Busk can treat me…they'd…understand…" and with that, she blacked out.
They made it into the cargo hold, where half a dozen crewmen carried them to the sick bay. On the way there Alek said, "Only Dr. Barlow and Busk are allowed to treat Der-Dylan when we get there. Without questioning him, they sent a crewman sprinting for the machine room to fetch them and all of the supplies they would inevitably need.
When they finally got to the sickbay, the lady boffin was already there, dressed in a white dress with a white apron. She had her sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Tazza whimpered and Barlow's eyes widened when the teens were carried through the door.
"My god, what have you two been up to?"
"L-long story…but Sharp is in worse shape than me…"
"Well, let's see to him then!" The crewmen set them on adjacent beds, and the boffin shooed them away.
Dylan-or was it Deryn?- had awakened now, but didn't seem to know where she was. She scanned the room lazily, as though she were drunk. She opened her mouth to speak, but only her lifeblood drained down and out of her mouth, soaking into the pristine white sheets around her shoulders. They met eyes for a long and painful moment, and tears began to fall from her eyes again. Alek felt his own eyes begin to well up, and it became harder to swallow.
She probably wouldn't make it.
His one and only true friend on this ship. The only girl he's really ever known who had had feelings for him. And there she was, about to die right in front of his eyes.
She was out again.
Dr. Barlow felt the middy's neck for a pulse. She shook her head, "It's so faint…there's not much that I can do, I'm afraid." The lady boffin turned to Alek. "Where are you hurt?"
"Once in the abdomen, and once in the leg. I think the bullet shattered the bone, though."
"My goodness," Dr. Barlow said as she picked up a pair of shears from her tool kit. She cut Alek's pant leg up the side, splaying it open to gain access to the wound. "Your diagnosis may be right Alek, the bullet hasn't passed through, so it probably hit something, I.e. your femur. Would you mind removing your shirts?" Alek complied, and the lady boffin handed him a bundle of towels. "Soak up the blood with these while I attend to Mr. Sharp?" The wounded Austro-Hungarian prince nodded, then hissed as the cloth came into contact with his injury.
The Dr. turned back to Deryn and removed her coat and waist coat. She began to unbutton Deryn's midshipman collared shirt. Deryn suddenly grabbed Dr. Barlow's wrist when she was half-way up the garment. The girl held the boffin's gaze for a long moment, and continued holding it when she let go of the bofin's arm. The Dr. finished the job, revealing the Deryn had bound her torso tightly with what appeared to be linen bandages. Barlow met Deryn's un-breaking stare once more.
"I knew something was peculiar about you, Mr. Sharp." Deryn didn't speak, only nodded, a fresh bout of tears running down her face. She laid her head back down on the bed as Dr. Barlow began to work.
"You know how s-some people say that when you…die, y-you can see a light…at the end of a tunnel?"
"What of it?" The lady boffin began to work at a feverish pace, as if she knew something was wrong.
Deryn smiled and chuckled very lightly. "Well, they're wrong…I can't see...a bloody…thing…" Her head slowly rolled to one side, her eyes closed. Tazza made his way over to her bed and licked her limp hand, whining.
Alek sat up. "Deryn!" He couldn't hold back his sobs. "Deryn…no please! Don't die! I need you…*sob*" His heart sank massively, and his eyes filled with tears, which ran down his face. "If you can still hear me…I love you! Don't leave me here alone!"
Dr. Busk finally burst into the room. "Right, what's going on?"
"Treat Alek!" the lady boffin half-shouted at the doctor. Dr. Busk rushed to Alek's bedside.
"If you could please lay back down I'll see what I can do."
Sunlight made its way across the room until it settled on Alek's eyelids. He opened them, and squinted in the brilliance of it. He sat up, slowly, so as not to hurt his braced leg, wincing as his abdomen changed shape.
He took a deep breath, then cast a worried glance at the bed to his left.
Beneath the thin sheets lay a skinny midshipman with blonde hair and fine features, dressed in a white shirt and sick bay regulation white trousers, right arm in a sling.
Deryn Sharp had somehow survived.
It had been a week since the nearly tragic day, and Deryn had been treated numerous times, until she was deemed stable enough to be left without an attendant. She had been unconscious, Alek reckoned, up until two nights ago, when she had started muttering words like "Da", "Alek", and "Love." And last night, she began to move around, meaning that a bullet hadn't left her paralyzed.
As Alek looked her over, she began to weep in her sleep. "N-no…" she murmured, turning her head to the side, as if to avoid something. "Don't hurt him…s-stop…Alek…"
Alek watched her dream, wondering what was going on behind her eyelids, as she gripped the sheets with her left hand as her right clenched into a fist.
Suddenly, she sat bolt upright, her eyelids shot open, and she cried out "Alek!" Her breathing was heavy and tears fell off her face as she whipped her head around, not knowing where she was.
"I'm here," Alek said softly, "And you're in the sickbay."
She met his gaze. "Oh god! I 'd thought you died!" She wiped her tears with the back of her hand.
"It was just a dream." Alek confirmed. "But you almost died, multiple times. I don't know how you survived."
Deryn gave him a long look. "Because you said something that day. Something that I'll never forget."
"And what was that?"
"That you loved me. That gave me all the strength I needed to pull through this barking tragedy!"
Alek felt himself blush. "Well then, you're welcome."
Then Deryn's expression turned into a solemn one. "How many people know?"
"As far as I know, only Dr. Barlow and Dr. Busk." Deryn drew in a long, slow breath, wincing as she did so.
"But they're boffins, so they understood. I made sure of it. If they keep their promises, then no one else will know."
Deryn smiled. "Thank you, Alek. Thank you so much."
She slid and put her feet on the floor, her left hand on her knee. With a grunt, she lifted herself from the bed. She stood wobbling there a bit.
"Are you sure you should try that? You haven't walked for a week."
"Well seeing as you can't, I thought I'd have a go at it." Her Scottish accent was back, just like the old Dylan.
Alek turned toward her, leaving his injured leg on the bed. She grappled on to anything to keep her from falling as she stumbled toward Alek. She lost her balance and fell into Alek's open arms.
"Careful now," he said chuckling. Deryn giggled back as she gazed into his eyes.
"There's something I've been wanting to try." She said.
"And what is that?" He asked.
She moved her head closer to his, closing her eyes. Alek followed suite. Their noses gently made contact, and their lips pressed together for the first time. Alek's heart raced, and he wished this moment could go on forever. This just felt so right. He finally felt at home; he had found love.
The door burst open, and the couple quickly separated their faces, smiling at one another.
"Well look who's up and moving about! I didn't expect you to be awake for another day or so." Came the voice of Dr. Barlow.
Tazza bounded up beside Deryn, and she scratched his ears. "Nice to see you too Tazza."
"Well, it seems to me that you're feeling an awful lot better. Anything hurting?"
"Just my rib, ma'am." Deryn replied.
"Oh yes, interesting story that. You are quite a lucky one, Mr. Sharp," the lady boffin winked at her, "The bullet in your abdomen was much like when Mr. Rigby was wounded; it passed straight through you, missing all of the important bits. The second one, however, shattered on your rib, breaking it, and spraying lots of nasty debris into your lung, which is where most of the blood came from. Your shoulder, though, seems to be healing nicely."
"Thank you, Dr. Barlow, for saving our lives." Deryn said.
"Oh don't thank me! If it weren't for Newkirk, you might not have lived ten more minutes on that road!"
"Where is the bum-rag, anyhow?" Deryn asked.
"Would you like me to fetch him for you?" Dr. Barlow offered.
"If you'd like to, I'd be much obliged, ma'am." Deryn responded.
"Alright then, I'll be back shortly. In the meantime Mr. Sharp, you should get back to bed; I don't need my newly fixed up patient hurting himself again, do we now?" With that, she strode out of the room, Tazza following.
Deryn returned her gaze to Alek. "How's this relationship going to work, hm?"
Alek shrugged, "We'll find a way." They smiled at each other, then kissed one last time before Deryn made her way back to her bed.
On the way there, Alek added, "And I was going to say that you shoot like a girl, but that wouldn't describe it properly." Deryn laughed as she laid down.
"Oh and one last thing," she said.
"You still need to teach me how to fence."