Eeek, sorry for the short chapter guys O.o School started back this week and has kinda drained me a bit =/ I hope you guys still like it though! :D
Consciousness returned slowly and with it so did the pain. It started from his feet and crawled all the way up to his head, bone deep and wrenching. His chest ached painfully, the muscles tightening and seizing sharply with each breath he took. Everything hurt and his body felt heavy and leaden like his limbs were pinned down with bags of sand. For a moment, all he could do was lie there with his eyes closed and breathe.
His mind sought through fuzzy images of darkness and shadow. He vaguely recalled leaving the store, walking down the twilight streets of Springfield, and that's where the memories stopped. Everything beyond that was a blur of shifting memories with no beginning and no end. Everything was dark and oppressive…it was like waking up inside of a tomb.
Gentle hands touched his face, smoothing away the hair from his forehead, and he cringed at the sudden contact. The touch was not painful but his mind, along with his sensory awareness, was still drifting through the swirls of a cloudbank and it was startling to say the least.
"Abraham?" A voice said above his head, soft and concerned and familiar. He knew that voice, he'd know it anywhere. No matter his prejudice or his personal mission in life, that voice had always brought him comfort and solidity. It reminded him of home.
He opened his eyes slowly, the task taking much more effort than he thought it would. His vision swam for a moment, images blurry and uncoordinated, and he had to blink several times in order to get his eyes to focus on the ceiling up above him. He didn't recognize the room and for one brief moment he felt his breath seize in his lungs as the memory of another darkened room, one with thick, oppressive walls lit only by the flickering of candlelight, filtered to the surface. He squeezed his eyes shut them, swallowing thickly and fighting back the surge of panic that accompanied the memory.
"It's alright," the voice said above him and a cool, comforting hand brushed across his forehead. "You're safe."
He managed to open his eyes again, his vision focusing more quickly this time around, and tilted his head to the side toward the voice. Henry's face shifted into view an Abe felt a swell of relief wash through him. "H'nry…?" His voice came out scratchy and dry in his ears and he winced inwardly.
The vampire just nodded and allowed his hand to rest against the younger man's shoulder gently. "It's very good to see you awake again, my friend. I confess I was beginning to become concerned." His expression was unreadable but the words were serious and Abe found himself frowning as he tried to pull more details from his foggy memories.
"There was a room…" Abe mumbled, his words slurring together a bit as he tried to speak more coherently. "A dark room…I was pinned down…"
"I know," Henry said quietly, a brief yet very dark look crossing his features as he spoke. "I took care of the matter. You shouldn't worry yourself with it anymore."
Abe blinked heavily, the very effort of speaking making him drowsy and his thoughts muddled. "You found me…"
Henry smiled softly then, a true smile, and his eyes softened a bit. "Of course I did; you'll find I'm very persistent when it comes to those I care about and your disappearance would not have gone unnoticed for long. Though you can thank your friend Speed for alerting me as to your absence in the first place. He was very concerned about your wellbeing."
Abe frowned a bit, trying to think back once again to the last night he remembered. Everything was still a blur but he could recall very distant memories that led up to his abduction. He'd left the store on an errand and the promise to join Speed at the tavern down the street. It was early evening, the sun just beginning to disappear beneath the horizon, and the long shadows of the city filling the streets. It would have been a nice evening if he wasn't being followed.
He'd sensed them before he ever saw them, knowing there were at least two, possibly three stalking him throughout the darkened streets and alleyways. He cursed himself bitterly for leaving his axe behind in the shop. It wasn't the first time he'd been without a weapon in such a situation but it definitely didn't raise his hopes in the matter. The fight would be brutal, there was no doubt about that, and Abe remembered feeling his muscles tense just before the first strike landed. There was blinding flash of pain, a blossom of blood across his chest, and he was overwhelmed. Everything afterwards was a haze, a jumbled mess of intertwining memories that all ended in darkness.
Henry's voice pulled him back to the present and he found himself blinking up at the ceiling again. His mind drifted back over the events again, trying once more to recall anything else from the tangle of memories, but coming up blank. His brow creased in concentration and he couldn't quite hide the wince that crossed his features. He was tired, his body heavy, and everything hurt.
Seeming to sense his friend's distress, Henry moved his hand up and swiped his thumb gently along the creases of pain that crossed his face. "Try not to strain yourself," he said quietly, keeping his voice soft and soothing. "You're recovering from a fever and your body is still very weak; even the smallest of tasks will take their toll if you're not careful."
His words rang true and Abe already felt himself being drawn back into the waiting arms of sleep. He tried to fight it, to push his mind just a bit harder to remember, but it was no use. Henry's hand was soothing against his forehead, grounding him and giving him enough stability to feel like he wouldn't float away into madness. Clinging to that feeling for as long as he could, Abe let himself drift back into a dreamless oblivion.
When he woke again, it was once more to the sound of Henry's voice. The vampire was still close to him, his voice right above his ear, and Abe could just make out the curve of the other man's shoulder beside his head. He listened quietly for a few moments, letting the words simply drift over him like waves from the sea.
"…and the owner of it blest, ever shall in safety rest. Trip away, make no stay; meet me all by break of day."
Shakespeare, Abe's mind supplied helpfully, latching onto the words like a rope in stormy seas. The lilting pattern of words brought back memories of his first meeting with Henry, of listening quietly as his immortal friend read him sonnets and acts from a book dedicated to the great playwright. Muscle memory recalled lying motionless in the bed much like he was now, keeping as still as possible to avoid jarring new wounds. It had only been a few years and yet it felt like lifetimes in his sleep induced haze.
"I'm sorry," Abe said quietly, his voice cutting off the quiet reading above him. He could feel Henry's eyes on him and he forced himself to blink open his own eyes at the sensation. "I was a fool…"he continued, eyes slowly readjusting to the room around him. "I was careless and let them get the better of me."
Henry remained silent for a second longer before he shifted ever so slightly, marking the page of his book with one finger. "Do not mistake foolishness with youth, Abraham," he said softly, resting the book in his lap carefully. "Life comes through a series of trials and tribulation, all of which are designed to teach an important lesson. You are still learning, my friend, and you are still very young; I have never expected you to be perfect, only to learn from the hardships in your life." The words hang in the air solidly for a moment, meant neither to scold nor condescend. Henry didn't appear to be disappointed or frustrated by his mistake or the resulting injuries, he just seemed worried.
"Though I do hope you will endeavor to be more careful from now on," he continued in his same quiet manner. "I worry for you, my friend, and I confess that my concern often leads me to making rash decisions on your behalf."
Abe smiled softly, wincing as it strained against a bruise on his jaw, and nodded as much as he was able. "I'll be more careful. I promise."
"Good." The satisfaction in Henry's voice was palpable and the bed shifted just slightly as Henry brought the book back up. "Shall I continue reading, then?"
Abe nodded slightly and Henry shifted him just a bit so he was resting more comfortably against his shoulder. The wounds across his chest ached from the change in gravity but the rest of his body relaxed against the vampire's shoulder, his eyes growing heavy again as long fingers began carding their way through his hair absently.
"If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended; that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear."
Henry's voice and the way he spoke always brought back memories of his mother, the way she would speak to him late at night when he was just beginning to fall asleep, her soft, sweet voice leading him into the comforting embrace of dreams. It had taken a long time before Abe finally realized how much Henry reminded him of her and how easy it was to feel like he was home whenever the older man was around. He offered security and balance to Abe's hectic life and he never failed to restore both physical and mental order every time he was around. Abe briefly wondered if Henry was even aware of the impact he had on his life.
"And this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream; gents do not reprehend, if you pardon, we will mend."
Henry's words were smooth and even, much the way they had been during their first encounter, and Abe could feel his eyes begin to slide closed again. His body sagged just a bit against the other man's side, limbs heavy and weighted down from illness and injury. He felt himself begin to slip to the side but one arm looped around his waist and kept him from toppling over. It was a rather intimate position, him cradled against Henry's side like a child, but Henry's presence was solid and grounding and Abe found that he didn't really care if their positions looked strange. He was comfortable, and Henry was here with him, and that's all that mattered.
"Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, we will make amends ere long; else the Puck a liar call, so goodnight unto you all."
Abe felt his eyes close even while Henry continued to read on into the next play, his voice a soothing lullaby in the quiet room. The opening lines to Macbeth drifted over his head but he was already too far gone to hear them.
Hope you all liked it! One chapter left! :D