A/N: Post Red Bulls. I think I get Grace's fear of the 'L' word, so this is an attempt to explain it in her POV. I own nothing but naughty thoughts and restraining orders from Owain Yeoman.
Tampled and Slain
He came to me. I knew he would. Later that night, he called the hospital and asked for my room number. As the nurse was binding my ribs with the third mile of gauze, he walked in. I looked up at the sound of his footsteps.
I whispered his name softly. I smiled. Painfully. Everything hurt, even smiling.
He saw my wince and winced with me, coming to my side and pulling a chair up next to me. He held my hand and watched with wide, anxious eyes as the nurse applied anchors to the ends of the gauze, gave me a small smile and told me to get some rest before leaving us alone.
He stood up, helping me ease back against the pillows. He took all of my weight into his arms, not trusting my broken body to support me properly as I settled down. I knew he didn't really have the leverage as he stood by the bed, but his arms didn't shake or slip once. They didn't leave me until I was comfortable. He sat back down next to my bed and took my hand. Knowing it was perfectly healthy, he dragged it to his lips and kissed it hard. I felt the softness of his mouth, the scratch of his cheeks, the terrified relief of his kiss.
Having reached my own tenuous peace with what happened, I watched his anxiety with concerned interest. He didn't have to look at me, I knew the man well enough to know he blamed himself. That somehow, if he and Hicks hadn't been bickering, he should have divined what waited for me behind that door and should have pulled me to safety before the first discharge caught me in the chest. If he had knocked on it instead of me, he could have taken the rounds in my place. He would never say that last one out loud, knowing I'd kill him. Without his vest, he would have died. I know he would have preferred to take his chances rather than see me injured, but he'd keep that little piece of self-sacrifice to himself.
He continued to hold my hand, dropping his head against the mattress. I studied it. The breadth of his skull always fascinated me, ever since I first met him. I'd seen him take hits to his temple, his jaw, his occipital bone. Hits strong enough to shatter lesser heads than his. But he barely bruised, barely bled, didn't even stop him from working. He was blessed with the cranial strength of an anvil. Blessed with the bodily solidity of an oak. He could take anything.
All except one thing.
I smiled and ran my hand through his hair as he hunched at my side. I heard the shaky intake of his breath. Only one thing knocked him down.
He looked up at the feel of my fingers and cracked a small smile. "When will they let me take you home?"
I traced my finger along his hairline. He closed his eyes and murmured appreciatively. "Anytime. There's nothing to do for broken ribs except sit back and heal."
He opened his eyes at that. "We can go now?"
He stood up instantly, pressing my hand once more before walking out the door. I heard him at the nurse's station telling that we were leaving immediately and did I need any medication or anything before we left. They offered to get my painkillers ready and he thanked them. He came back, immediately walking around the room and collecting my things. A nurse brought a wheelchair in and started to help me up, but Rigsby stopped her.
"I'll do it. Thank you."
She nodded and left the room. I smiled as he bent to my side again, offering his shoulders to slip my arms around. "Hold onto me."
I put all of the strain into my arms, keeping my chest and stomach muscles lax. He sat me up slowly, stopping every time I gasped stiffly against the pain. "It's okay," I said. "I'm all right."
He helped me into the chair. I could feel his irritation that he couldn't lift me up in his arms. He desperately wanted to, his love and protectiveness urging him to pick me up and shield me from pain and exertion, but my injury wouldn't let him. Bending my ribcage was agony. No prince could curl me into his chest with my legs draped dramatically over his arms. He'd have to fuss around me instead.
I sat back gingerly as the nurse came in and handed Rigsby a bag of meds. He took them with thanks. He shrugged out of his suit jacket and wrapped it around me. It swamped my shoulders and chest and I giggled, wincing instantly as my chest screamed at my stupidity. He crouched down next to me. "What?" His eyes looked happy to hear my laugh.
"You. Chivalrous you. You gonna throw this jacket over a puddle too?"
He chuckled and blushed. "If you asked, anything."
My smile slipped and my eyes went round. He would. He'd do anything. Anything. For me. I saw it every time he looked at me. There was no hesitation, no self-preservation in him. He unceremoniously threw his heart at my feet to treasure or trample as I saw fit. It frightened me how much this man loved me. My equal. Or my dog. He'd allow either treatment. As long as he was with me, he'd submit to anything. I felt horrified and honored. He'd stay on his knees, gazing up at me with adoration, hoping one day I touched his shoulder and allowed him to rise. He wouldn't do it without my permission. He really, really was the last knight. He fought dragons and charged armies, but tore his own armor open for me, letting me caress or slay the bared body underneath. My choice.
My breath caught softly. I pulled his jacket around me tighter. "Take me home, Wayne."
He nodded and stood, taking the chair bars and slowly wheeling me out.
The car ride was slow and careful. So was maneuvering me in and out. He drove to my place. He helped me up the stairs. I only carried a fraction of my weight. He wouldn't let me have the rest. At the door, he helped me in and locked up behind us. I felt weird asking, but I did anyway. I'm not sure what we are anymore (Friends? Dating? Lovers?), but I thought it covered my wish.
"Will you stay with me?"
He smiled with genuine pleasure at being asked. He ducked his head and shrugged. "I wouldn't have left even if you ordered me out."
I blushed at his sudden insistence. "It's just…we haven't…" I had trouble stating the obvious. "We haven't spent the night together, that's all."
He pulled me into the softest hug I've ever felt. He still had my weight. He wouldn't let go. He'll never let go. "I won't leave you, Grace. I'll sleep on the couch if you want, but I'm not leaving you like this."
I smiled into his shirt and relaxed against him. As the painful throb radiated from my chest, I was insanely relieved that I couldn't pry him out of here, even if I wanted to. On that score, he would disobey me. He'd stay. Even if I treated him like a kicked dog, he'd still curl outside of my door and guard me. I ardently hoped that one day soon, I could be comfortable with his devotion. One day soon, I hoped I could show mine.
I looked up at him and smile gratefully. "Thank you."
"But," I give him a saucy arched brow. "You're sleeping with me. I think we're passed the humble couch phase, don't you?"
He chuckled, running his hand over my hair. He did that a lot now. Apparently we were fascinated by the feel of each other's hair. "Then I humbly suggest we go to bed. You need rest."
I nodded and he resumed his place at my side, holding me up, walking slowly as I winced and wobbled my way down the hall.
He helped me into my night shirt. He lowered his head as he did. My breasts were covered in bandages and I was wearing panties, yet he still felt his gaze was inappropriate. He didn't want his first experience of my body to be this clinical. He didn't want me thinking he was appraising me, given my state. I laughed softly in my throat, bypassing my chest. I reached out and tipped his chin back up.
"It's okay, Wayne. I want you to see me."
He blushed but kept his eyes on mine. "I'm here to help you. I don't want you to think…" He didn't finish. He didn't need to. I smiled my encouragement.
"I don't." I gestured to his clothes. "How did you want to sleep?"
He looked down at his suit. "I usually just sleep in my boxers." He looked up again quickly. "But I can keep my t-shirt on, if you want me to."
"I want you comfortable. Sleep how you always sleep. Please?"
He nodded in a mixture of relief and nervousness. He stood up and slowly began to undress. Knowing he wouldn't mind, I watched openly. When he got down to just his boxers, he reached for me again. I put my arms around his shoulders again as he pulled me up to my pillows and laid me back. It was an odd experience. After imagining this moment so many times, it felt strange to have the romantic element missing entirely. His back was warm and hard under my hands. If it weren't for the pain, I knew I would have instinctually pushed my chest up into his, seeking that warmth. Instead I used him as leverage to get comfortable on the mattress before releasing him. Definitely odd, but not unpleasant. We were moving into unknown territory, territory we'd both fantasized about, but we were exploring it from a different angle. He pushed my bare legs under the duvet and pulled it up to my chest. Once he was satisfied that I was properly ensconced, he circled the bed and slipped into the sheets next to me. I felt the springs lower with his weight. I immediately felt his heat warming the bed. And suddenly I wished I were healthy more than anything in the world. My worries about our relationship vanished and were replaced with my desire for the warm, wonderful man in my bed. It was the most natural thing in the world, really.
He kept to his side, turning towards me and watching me closely. I looked over at him and smiled. "I can't exactly make the first move here, Wayne. If you want to cuddle, you'll have to come over here."
He grinned and scooted closer, slipping his arm under my neck and placing his other hand gently on my stomach. His skin smelled delicious. His heat enveloped me like a sauna. He nuzzled his forehead against my temple and murmured my name. I turned into him as best I could.
"It's not that I don't want to say it back." I felt him stiffen slightly before relaxing again.
"Don't worry about that now. Just sleep."
"Shhhhh," he interrupted me. "Heal first, Grace. Get better for me. Please? Nothing else matters right now."
I opened my mouth to debate further but he lifted his head and kissed me softly. Silencing me. His kiss was soft and chaste. His lips never opened. Just a sweet press of affection, wordlessly telling me he loved me and asking me not to worry about returning the words. Soon, I promised him mentally. Very soon.
"Sleep," he repeated, settling back next to me.
I nodded and closed my eyes. My ribs ached. My heart throbbed. My soul yearned. I tried like hell to quiet them all and just let me sleep. He was here with me. It was enough for now. I felt the ache lessen and the throb subside. As I slipped off to sleep, I heard him whisper softly to me. "I love you."
I wouldn't trample. I wouldn't slay. Tomorrow, the day after maybe, my returning thought would become an exhalation. I love you too.