Sorry for the long delay, I've got a couple of other stories i'm working on and SOOOO much uni work to get finished, but here's another chapter for you!
The rude awakening had taken it's toll on Nick, who was ungracefully passed out in the obscenely uncomfortable chair that had been provided for him beside his sister's bed. His pale lips hung open, and a particularly attractive glob of spit dangled all the way from his bottom lip to the from of his maroon shirt, leaving a damp patch, while his usually well maintained rugged stubble had reached a slightly less controlled and more shabby stage. But at some point in the brief moments of stolen sleep, one of his strong, calloused hands had tangled itself firmly with the tiny, pale fingers of hers. So it was with slight panic that she opened big grey eyes and tugged helplessly at his hand, trying to free her own. By carefully prying each of his fingers open individually, using the arm that was most certainly supposed to be strapped to her body in a sling, she managed to slide her hand free and clutch it protectively to her chest.
As if she was edging away from a terrible beast, the girl slid carefully out from under the covers, exposing legs equally as pale and thin as her bruised arms, and slithered onto the floor on the opposite side of the bed to Nick, peeking across at him. Slowly, keeping her eyes on him, she slid her hand into the backpack beside her and pulled out a small, intricately engraved knife. It looked old and there was what appeared to be old blood crusted around the handle. She flexed her fingers around the knife and pulled herself back up onto the bed, minding not to jostle her injured arm and crawled across to him. With slow, careful movements she lowered herself to balance on the arms of the chair, and looming over him she pressed the blade against his neck.
"Who are you?" She said quietly, her face down next to his ear.
It was to the feeling of cold steel on his neck and the smell of jasmine shampoo that Nick woke, jolting slightly and feeling the knife press harder against his throat. It took him a moment to comprehend his situation, but the empty bed visible over the shoulder of his attacker told him enough.
"Liesl stop! It's me!" He whispered harshly, aware of the nurses bustling about just behind the closed blinds. The knife at his neck seemed to falter slightly, as if in recognition, but clearly it wasn't enough to stop her because before he could take advantage of the moment the knife was back, harder than before.
"I know you, how do I know you?" Though the pressure on the knife at his throat didn't change, she pulled back enough to scan his face, her eyes desperately taking in every detail. His eyes were the same as hers, that deep soulful grey, almost blue, and his hair too, that rich darkest brown, just like hers. Then she saw the scar. It was nothing, the tiniest little white line at the outside corner of his eye. Her brother had that scar! She was just a little girl when it happened, probably no more that 8, they'd been play fighting when she'd accidentally scratched him, just one of those superficial wounds that shouldn't have scared but did.
Hesitantly she pulled the knife away, keeping it raised in case she changed her mind about him, and slowly clambered down from the arms of the chair with a wince, clutching her bad arm across her tender ribs. Without thinking Nick put a hand out to steady her, but she didn't flinch away, just let him help her sit back on the bed.
"...Nicki...?" She whispered, dropping the knife onto the blankets beside her and lifting her hand to his face. Her fingers stopped short of his cheek, hovering as if uncertain he was really there.
Nick let out the breath of air he didn't realise he was holding in and smiled in relief, surreptitiously pushing the knife out of her reach before gently reaching up to rest his hand over hers and place them both on his cheek.
As soon as her fingertips finally connected with his face she threw her arms around his neck and nestled her face in the gap between his shoulder and his neck, unashamedly sobbing.
"Oh Liesl where have you been? I've been looking for you since you ran away! It's been so long..." Nick murmured softly as he buried his face in her hair, wrapping his arms around her in return and pulling her up to rest in his lap, curled within the protective curve of his body. She was so thin and frail... Part of him was worried that if he squeezed her any tighter her bones would just snap. Nick could feel his temper flaring again, and reminded himself to get a grip.
Who would do this... who could treat her so awfully? He thought, his grip on Liesl never loosening, because at least while she was there he couldn't go and tear apart whoever did this to her.
It was a nurse who eventually had to separate them more than hour after their initial reunion in order to give Liesl a final check over and for nick to sign the paperwork. When he returned to her room the nurse was easing a heavy knitted navy blue cardigan over Liesl's bad arm and buttoning up the front. With a little pat on the girl's overly prominent hips the nurse turned and smiled at Nick as he entered.
"This young lady needs some serious fattening up, get some meat on those bones!" She said kindly, turning back to Liesl and patting her on the cheek in a no nonsense motherly fashion. Liesl smiled shyly and pulled the sleeve of her top over her hand in a shockingly childish show of nerves. Nick frowned, his sister had always been on the small side, but never shy. The girl with knife was closer to the Liesl he remembered... He shook off the feeling and smiled at her, bending to pick up her rucksack.
"Come on, let's get out of here, I can't wait to introduce you to Juliette!" He extended his hand towards her, and pulled her close, slinging the arm not holding her bag around her shoulder. His big hand could have easily closed around her upper arm, which he rubbed gently as they walked through the hospital, aware of the cold draft and her lack of a coat.
"Who's Juliette?" She asked conversationally as he helped her up into his truck, slapping his hand away as he began to faff around her seat belt.
"I'm fine, Nicki, I can do it myself." She said, trying not to let him see her struggling with the clip. She hated being fussed over, she was not some child who constantly needed babying. Nick threw his hands up in surrender and with a raised eyebrow made his way round to the drivers side.
"Juliette is my girlfriend, I met her around about the same time you first ran off, about 4 years ago, we've been living together for three now. And let me tell you, she is amazing, I can't wait for you two to meet." He revved up the engine and set out, keeping his eyes on the road as he spoke.
"But she'll probably be at work by the time we get back, so it'll give us some time to talk... and we really do need to talk, Liesl..." He glanced over at her for a second before looking back at the road and sighed. She was practically cowering, hunched over in the corner of her seat, gazing out of the window. What had done this to her? She was always so head strong and confident! The nurse had said it was domestic violence, that she was certain, and he agreed. He was a cop, he'd seen his fair share of beaten women, but never expected it to be his kid sister on the other end, who'd bitten a chunk out of a kids leg when she was at elementary school because he'd pulled her hair. He wanted to say more, try and get her talking about it, but he guessed it was best to wait until he got her inside in the warm... where she couldn't run.
Thank you very much for reading! I have the next chapter ready and waiting if people want it. It is very... graphic. Liesl has had a pretty shitty life, I didn't realise quite how bad I made it until I typed it up yesterday, so it will come with some pretty hefty trigger warnings.
If you have a moment please drop me a review! Thank you very much.