This was alien. This was real.
This was it.
Rochelle sank down into a sitting position on the itchy blue covers of the cabin bed. It was one of the first moments aboard the quarantine ship that she'd really had to herself, to sit and think and wonder.
The floor shifted; she thanked her lucky stars that she, unlike Nick, had found her sea-legs with such ease. The ex con-artist was currently retired to his own berth, green-faced and crankier than usual. Ellis had checked in just moments before, scooting on up to the deck, having been assured that Rochelle would join him before long. Coach was already up there, feeling the blessing of the cool sea spray on his face instead of Spitter acid.
Where would they go from here?
She couldn't think about it clearly. Whenever she tried to her head was flooded with a multitude of complications, generally still ending in her own demise out of habit. Still, they'd made it this far. Together.
Her reverie was interrupted by a sudden rap on the door. Rochelle raised an eyebrow; Ellis was impatient this morning, it seemed. She crossed the small room and pulled the door open, only to be truly taken aback.
'Long time no see.' The trim man gave her a warm smile and she stepped forward, a bemused look flickering across her face.
'You... you guys got picked up? How? Since when?'
Louis gave a weary chuckle and shrugged. 'Things took a turn for the worst... provisions were running out, the works. We figured it was time to start playing along, see if it did us any better.'
'It's good to see you, sweetie.' Rochelle said, still hardly believing it as she stretched up and pulled him into a friendly hug. She noticed briefly how he seemed to hold his weight to one side, and immediately made the connection with his previous injury from the bridge. Perhaps the lack of professional treatment had brought about a lasting effect. She released him and glanced out into the hall. 'Where are the others?'
'We ran into Ellis down in the mess hall... seemed happy to see Zoey. I mean, really happy.' Louis laughed quietly. Rochelle waited, and he realized that she had only been fully interested in one person's whereabouts in particular.
'And Francis... well, Coach figured I should come up here and let you know.'
Her stomach dropped like a stone. She couldn't control the way her mouth slipped open a fraction, the way a haze seemed to settle over her eyes so suddenly. What? No. No way.
'What? What happened?'
'He's, uh... the medics took him once we reached. He was... is... pretty roughed up. A Charger did a number on him, and, well...'
'I'm gonnaa... uh, I'm gonna get down there and see how... I just... yeah. Thanks, Louis.'
And before Louis could get another word out, Rochelle had closed the door behind her and hurried off, expression almost blank as she left him alone and tense in the hall.
'Only family and significant others are permitted entry, ma'am... I understand many friendships have been forged in the last few weeks but we can't have the ward getting crowded. There are seriously injured people in there and-'
'Yeah. Uh, yeah, I'm his... his girlfriend,' Rochelle lied blatantly. The medic seemed unsure of the truth in her statement, but moved aside all the same; it was clear to him that this young woman wouldn't let up until she got what she wanted, and he had patients to tend.'Thank you,' she added.
The infirmary was something of a mixture between efficient and makeshift-seeming. The steel walls were cold and exposed, shining dully in the sunlight that filtered in from the small portholes, yet the medical equipment seemed top-notch. She located him without too much difficulty, his cubicle not being too far from the entrance.
Francis was wide awake, sitting awkwardly above the blankets with his head resting in a bored manner across the pillow. Rochelle breathed an inward sigh of relief. He scoffed as she entered.
'You good to get me outta here yet, Doc? 'Cos I won't lie, I hate people who-'
'Hey.' She smiled almost coyly, her head poking out from behind the compartment divider. He looked up at her greeting, a shocked look crossing his face before he recognized her and it was replaced with a crooked grin.
'Well well, if it ain't the most beautiful lady in what's left of the world.'
Rochelle entered the compartment and approached his bedside, clicking her tongue playfully as her eyes swept over him. 'What did you go and do to yourself?'
His vest was pushed back and beneath it thick bandages staunched what must have at one point been a bad flow of blood. Now, however, it was darker in colour and seemed to be drying. Bruises were just visible through the tattoos decorating his arms, angry and purple, while his face was paler than she had last seen it.
'It was nothin',' he said breezily, making an attempt to push himself up with a grunt. 'It'd take more than this to do me in.'
'Yeah, you'd better hope so,' she replied with a gentle chuckle as she took a seat near him on the edge of the bed. She brushed back a stray stand of hair and smiled back fleetingly. 'Scared the shit outta me when Louis told me you were down here.'
Francis winced at sitting up, before recovering and cocking an eyebrow. 'What, you were worried about me?'
There was a slight pause as she looked up at him quickly from beneath her eyelashes, suddenly a little nervous. '... maybe.' Then, with a little more taunt, 'Did you miss us?'
'If I say yes... do I get that kiss you promised me back on the bridge?'
At that she slapped his arm in mock-prudishness, and raised a curled fist to her mouth as his breath hitched. He was hurt. Bad. Maybe worse than she'd originally thought, or perhaps the damage just seemed amplified because now she considered it, she'd never seen Francis injured before. Never.
'M'sorry, I didn't mean to...'
'You ain't got shit to be sorry for,' he interrupted boastfully. 'Don't you get it by now?'
Interest piqued, she merely waited for him to elaborate.
She chuckled quietly. It was strange, how one moment he had her in a concerned frenzy, the next feeling more relaxed than she had in weeks. It kept her on her tiptoes. And that was... well, nothing new to her. But something intriguing in a whole new way.
'What're you smilin' at?' he noted as he leaned back on his elbows.
Rochelle leaned in just a little, biting her lip before responding. 'Just thinking about when you'll be able to move without feeling any intense pain, hm?'
Francis's jaw dropped, and a tingle ran up her spine.
There were so many complications. Too many. He was a biker, for God's sake, probably in a gang- most likely wanted by the law. She had a career to consider, family and friends to find. The thoughts had barely entered her mind when she pushed them out again, defiant and for once, full of hope.
It didn't matter. Not to her.
They'd make it work.
And with that final thought, Rochelle finally allowed her heart to take control and gave her mind a well-deserved break. Her hand ran deftly across his chest, and he smirked up at her blearily as it moved to his face.
'I'm really glad you made it, Francis.'
'I... uh, I...'
'What?' Rochelle grinned tightly. Francis blinked once, slowly, and his eyes started to roll back in his head.
'I really wanna say-'
There was a thunk as Francis's head plopped backwards, pain medication well and truly kicked in.
A/N: Still not sure how I feel about this Frochelle oneshot, but I just wanted to get it done with. xD The premise was initially to have it pretty serious, but I guess Francis sort of wrote his own lines for me.
It sort of bridges my two existing Frochelle oneshots; set after I Hate, and a couple of days/weeks before The Talk. If you liked this, have a peek at them. ;D
Anyway, it's a pretty even mixture of post-rescue-reunion-flirty-fluffy-comedy-blah for you :3 Enjoy.