Most of the evening was quiet. Eric stayed in the chair at her bedside, and they'd talked a little. About nothing, about Calleigh, about the case. Her throat was sore, though, so for much of the evening they didn't say anything. He just held her hand, stroked her arm from wrist to elbow in a slow, measured rhythm. It had been soothing, lulling her more than once into a light doze. She woke the first time when a nurse came in to check her vitals, woke the second time when her still-healing lungs hitched into a sudden cough – the way Eric hovered and fussed was nothing short of adorable. And comforting. And… a thousand other mushy words she never thought she'd use for him.
When her dad arrived, nearly as panicked as Eric had been, she woke again and spent a good forty-five minutes sitting up and smiling brightly and convincing her daddy that she was fine, that he shouldn't worry, that it would all be okay. Calleigh hadn't been able to keep from grinning when her father made Eric promise to see her home when she was released. Duke had to be in court all week, which meant he wouldn't be able to be her caretaker, so Eric simply had to do it. Just had to, young man. See to it that his little Lambchop is well-taken-care-of, and that she gets her rest, and that she doesn't try to do too much, because you know she'll try to do too much. The thought of the coughing spell she'd be risking was the only thing that kept Calleigh from laughing. It was sweet, though. Touching. And exhausting. She nodded off again almost as soon as her father left, after much urging and prodding and insisting that he go home and finish prepping his case.
The last time she woke was just before Eric left, when he leaned in and pressed a kiss to her forehead, brushing the hair out of her face.
"Get some rest, beautiful," he murmured to her, barely more than a whisper, and Calleigh dragged her eyes open enough to get a look at him in the suddenly low lighting of her room. He must have turned the lights down…
"You leaving?" she managed, voice slurred slightly with sleep. He pulled back just enough to fill her vision with his face and nothing else, and everything felt floaty and dreamlike again.
"Yeah. Visiting hours ended an hour and a half ago. I can't stay the night…"
Calleigh's lips curved up in the ghost of a smile. "You asked."
"Yeah." He leaned in again, planted another soft kiss on her forehead. "I'll stop by tomorrow, okay?"
Calleigh nodded, and tilted her head up just slightly. "Eric…"
"Do I get a kiss goodnight?" He got that look on his face, the sucker-punch-of-wonder look, for just a moment, and then he leaned in. Their lips brushed once, twice, held the third time, and Calleigh actually felt the flutter of butterflies in her belly.
It ended as smoothly as it began, with Eric pressing his forehead against hers lightly and telling her to call if she needed him before morning, he'd leave his phone on. Tugging her covers up from where they had slouched, he gave her one more whisper-light kiss and then was gone. It was a good five minutes before she realized that he'd never bothered to take his watch back.