I woke up with a pounding headache and a pain in my side. Every time I tried to breathe my ribs ached profusely. I felt sore all over. In addition to my physical pain, I didn't quite know where I was. My vision wasn't completely clear. All I could see was a pale shape and a dark room. I groaned, reaching up to rub my forehead.
"How are you feeling?" a small voice asked me. I stared at the pale, out-of-place object in my vision, squinting and blinking repeatedly.
"Um, I feel like I just got beat up, which is true," I moaned. I tried to take a deep breath, wincing when my ribs felt like they'd crack.
"Daniel, I'm so, so sorry. I'm not sure what came over me," the voice whispered. I thought for a moment before identifying the voice as Vlad. I squinted harder, trying to bring the room into better focus.
When I could see properly, I immediately took note of Vlad's face. It was obvious how sad he was; he looked like he was drowning in his own misery. His forehead was crumpled, the corners of his mouth were turned down, and there was an obvious sadness and hint of worry in his eyes.
"Don't worry about it. I'll be fine," I muttered. I ran a hand through my hair, feeling weak. I looked up at Vlad, giving him a weak smile.
"You aren't angry with me? Daniel, I just… I did this to you. How can you be so nonchalant about this?" Vlad inquired. He looked bewildered, and I rolled my eyes.
"Vlad, what kind of good ghost would I be if I didn't forgive people? Sure, what you did really sucks, and I'm in pain now, but it's whatever," I replied. I sort of meant what I said. I was irritated that he kicked my butt, but I would get over it. It wasn't the first time I'd been beat up by him.
"My Little Badger, I'm truly so sorry. You shouldn't forgive me. What I did was inexcusable," he whispered. My eyes were half-closed when he said this, but I looked back up at him to see his face. My jaw dropped.
He had slumped to his knees, bowing forward. His face was buried in his hands with his silver hair untied and falling in a curtain around his face. His back was moving erratically with his uneven breathing. Even though I had told him I didn't feel for him romantically, it still hurt in a foreign way to see him like that.
"Vlad… Look at me," I told him, sitting up. I ignored the fierce pounding in my head. He lifted his face from his hands to look at me desperately.
"You need to stop beating yourself up over this. This isn't the first time I've gotten my butt kicked. I don't hate you over this, you know. Don't worry about it, okay?" I reassured him. I reached over to pat him on the shoulder.
He looked at me curiously. "You certainly don't sound like you're fourteen, Daniel. I guess you never really have been, have you?" Vlad remarked. He rose to his feet and sat on the edge of the bed, giving me space.
"And you don't sound like you're in your forties," I retorted. I raised an eyebrow, smirking at him.
Vlad chuckled. "Of course not. Well, Daniel, as much as it pains me to say this, I'd understand if you didn't wish to see me anymore," he began. His face and voice took on the sad quality again, and he folded his hands in his lap and looked down. "It would make more sense for you to be angry at me. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if you wished to leave right now."
Looking at Vlad made me feel bad. He was obviously so sad about saying this to me. He wasn't even acting like an asshole about it. I couldn't deny that seeing him so hurt and distraught made me sad. It was obvious that he really did care and was sorry about hurting me. Hell, I cared about Vlad. I cursed in my head; of course this would happen.
"Vlad, I'm not leaving," I mustered out. I clenched my fists, and stared down at the sheets. I noticed that I was in Vlad's bed. Perfect.
He looked up at me. "You're not?" he gasped. I clenched my teeth together. Did he really just ask me that?
"I'm just not, okay?" I growled. I twisted the sheets around my fingers nervously. I wasn't sure I wanted to have this conversation.
"I'll make this up to you, Daniel. I promise," he said. His reached out to touch my shoulder, and I looked up at him. He was beaming, looking like he had just won the lottery. He was one seriously crazed-up fruit loop.
"Do whatever you want, fruit loop," I replied. I waved a hand at him, grinning slightly. He shifted closer to me and pulled me in for a hug. I froze for a second before returning it, wrapping my weak arms around his neck.
"I just hope that one day you feel for me, the way I feel for you. That's more than likely too much to ask, though," Vlad said in my ear. He pulled back and gave me a tight smile, before leaning back in his pillows.
I just stared at him. "You don't have to stay here right now, Daniel. Why don't you go see your friends or something?" he suggested. He wouldn't look me in the eye, preferring to stare at the ceiling.
I wasn't sure what came over me. Maybe it was the fact he looked so alone lying there. Maybe it was that I actually did love him. I really didn't know or, frankly, care. I leaned back and nestled into his side in a way I had never done during our strange relationship.
Vlad froze underneath me. "W-what are you doing, Daniel?" he asked, surprise coloring his voice. I was embarrassed, and tried to sit up. My cheeks were flaming red from even trying to be close to him.
"Wait a minute!" he told me. He brought one of his arms around to hold me in place, and his opposite hand went to my hair and started stroking.
"You just caught me off guard is all," he soothed. I relaxed into his embrace, curling around him, wrapping an arm around his chest. "Can I safely assume that you do care about me?" I felt something press into my hair and guessed it to be his cheek.
I blushed again, turning my eyes down to where my legs wrapped around his. I fidgeted with the fabric of Vlad's shirt, stalling. "Um," I tried, wincing when my voice cracked. Damn emotion and damn puberty. "I think so."
I heard and felt Vlad laugh. He pulled me tight for a second before relaxing again. He ran a hand down my back, rubbing in circles. I buried my face in his side, almost purring from the sensation. I could get used to the sweet attention from him. I smiled to myself.
"I'm glad you can forgive me, Little Badger," Vlad murmured to me, his breath stirring my hair. I tilted my head back to look at him and gave him a small smile.
He leaned down to peck me on the lips and pulled me even closer. I pulled my legs up into a ball, curling into his arm. "I love you, Daniel," he told me again. I didn't freak out this time; it was nice to hear now.