Samantha stayed with her the next few days, but Lara's condition only worsened. When she wasn't conscious, she dreamed. Samantha didn't really know everything she'd been through on their journey, but if the fevered nightmares were any indication of it, she wasn't sure she wanted to. Reyes reluctantly suggested restraints, but Samantha wouldn't allow it. When Lara went into her fits, she held her and tried to keep her friend from hurting herself as best she could. No matter how bad the nightmares seemed, consciousness struck her even worse. Samantha wasn't sure, but Lara seemed to be reliving her experiences in her delirium. On the third day, it got so bad that Jonah had to knock her out. Samantha's heart raced for her friend. Lara needed help.
It was a relief when they finally docked on the end of the third day. Samantha sat with her in the back of the emergency bus, praying while they worked and doused her system with antibiotics and sedatives. She could only watch from a distance when they wheeled Lara away. Samantha was crying by the time Jonah reached her in the hospital and hugged. Samantha sat with him and Reyes for hours in waiting.
When the doctor finally came out, he wore one of those faces nobody wanted to see on a physician. Samantha practically lost it until he said, "She's stabilized." Samantha slackened in Jonah's arms.
"Does that mean she's going to be okay?"
"It'll take a few days for the fever to die down," the doctor cautioned, "And her injuries are severe. With multiple scrapes and lacerations, she may have some nerve damage that runs deeper under the tissue. The punctures into her foot have fractured the bone and has been stiff-casted, but will have to be removed twice daily to check the punctures. Her slash wounds narrowly avoided arteries; we've stitched her arm and cauterized the shoulder. Her stomach puncture had to be re-opened to burn out the infection, and she came in with a fever of 104.8 with hallucinations. She won't be out of the ICU for days."
Samantha's heart increasingly pounded. The doctor seemed to take pity on them then, maybe seeing her faint. "That being said, your friend is very lucky. Whatever happened to her, it missed major arteries and the self-cauterization, crude as it'd been and the source of the infection, probably saved her life from bleeding out. You brought her just in time. Are any of you her family, may I ask?"
"They're dead," Reyes volunteered, "I believe Samantha's listed as the emergency contact."
"Are you Samantha?"
"I am," Samantha volunteered, barely able to breathe. "Can I see her?
The doctor didn't seem happy by the news. "I'm afraid I need to first talk to you about treatment options, costs, medical history and what happened…"
"Do you have to do that now?" Reyes almost snapped.
"The sooner we know, the better we'll be able to treat her."
"Cost isn't an issue." Samantha volunteered brazenly. "Give her the best."
"I'll talk to you about that," Reyes volunteered. "You can fill her in on the confidentials later."
"Samantha needs treatment," Jonah finally said, just remembering maybe by the wince with her step. Samantha had forgotten too, but she didn't have time for this. She had to see Lara.
Before she could step away again, however, Jonah's arms lifted fully around her, taking her straight off the ground. He removed her slipper to reveal her bandaged foot. "Jonah!"
"I need to see her!" Samantha squirmed to get free.
"Visitors aren't permitted yet." The doctor added unhelpfully. Samantha fought it, but ultimately lost. When the doctor saw her foot, he toted her off too where Samantha received some painful, professional treatment to the bottom of her foot and edges. She was sweating it out by the end in pain by the time they bandaged it up. One of the nurses took an incorrect curiosity in her bruising around the eye and ribs. Samantha had completely forgotten they were there; courtesies of her wrestling matches with the injured Lara.
"They were an accident. I have to go."
"Is someone abusing you, Samantha?" The nurse held up one of her wrists where rope burns had cut into her skin.
After an annoying, extra half-hour of assuring she wasn't a beaten housewife, Samantha finally got away— against doctor's recommendation— and struggled away on crutches until she found Reyes again, who directed her the right way to Lara's room. When Samantha finally found her, she nearly collapsed on Lara in despair.
Freshly washed, as they'd done to Samantha as well, nearly every visible part of her best friend was wrapped. Bandages wound around her head, shoulder, torso, leg, and foot. Patches over the deep scrapes existed everywhere else. At least she'd been washed, but what little of her Samantha could see through the bandages, Lara still looked sickly as sin.
"They said her ribs cracked, not broke." Jonah filled in. "It's a small mercy… surgery's not required with a crack. But her legs have bad burns. They've been in and out every hour."
Samantha only swallowed and drowned in her best friend's pain. She took Lara's hand and didn't let go for hours. Reyes and Jonah shifted in, bathed somewhere and brought food back, but Samantha wasn't hungry for any of it. She just wanted Lara back.
In-between the doctor checkups and meager acceptance of little food to placate her friends, a few days passed before Samantha's mother finally showed up. After a long debate that had Samantha practically flailing in protest, she finally resigned to stop back Lara's mansion with her mother to wash up and refresh before coming back. Samantha had finished bathing in the Jacuzzi-size tub and was dressing her wound when the door opened in. "Mom!"
"Oh, Sweetie," Samantha's six-foot three, brunette, model-gorgeous mother passed off, entering the room anyway as Samantha covered her exposed chest, only in her panties on the side of the tub. "I gave birth to it. Your body's not going to startle me, darling." Angled cheeks rounded towards the bottom of her chin, Maria had a full face, luscious lips, and eyes that matched Samantha's, whom she'd taken after in that. She knelt just by the tub and lifted the leg with her injured foot. "How is my baby's foot doing? Does it still hurt, my girl?"
"Mom, you're being weird again." Samantha pulled her foot away, not wanting her mother to see the raw sole of it.
"Baby," Maria reached out and cradled her cheek with long, slender fingers in a caring, caressing manner, "You escape this… this documentary island by hair, go despondent, and expect no weird?" Maria leaned in and kissed Samantha's cheek. "No, baby. You are mistaken in this. Your father would bind you to the house if he were here."
"I'm going back to the hospital after this," Samantha informed, not wanting to give her mother the wrong impression of staying here.
"Yes," Maria noddingly agreed as she took up the bandage Samantha had left off. "This is good. Lara needs you, baby. She's good girl. Very grounded. I always like her influence on you." Samantha rolled her eyes, but when Marian next looked up with those perfectly-plucked, warm, heart-quenching eyes, she knew she was very serious about the favor Lara had with her. Samantha had always known her mother liked her, but this last venture must've solidified that completely. "We spare no expense for her, Samantha. Anything Lara needs, you tell me or your father."
"Well…" Samantha admitted, having had two days to think on this. When Lara finally woke off the sedatives, she wouldn't like waking in a hospital. She'd feel trapped. Lara would be much more comfortable surrounded by familiar things. "I've been thinking about emergency home care for her." Samantha admitted, "It's expensive, but…"
"No expense," Maria promised, meaning the opposite. "We'll pull her out today. I don't like you at that place anyway. Sterile, antiseptic. Is no place for my daughter. Have you looked up good doctor?"
"This, you must do. For Lara, Samantha."
"I will, Mom. Right after this."
"Good," Maria agreed, "I will call the hospital for transfer here. You find who, and I pull the best wherever you find her. Girl doctor, Samantha. No man touching Lara."
Samantha half shook her head again. "Okay, Mom."
"And no parties," Maria warned. "I stay three days, if I hear you invite those boys after— "
"I'm not going to have a party while Lara's sick, Mom."
"Don't give me that look, Samantha. I know you like fun. Your father wants a sitter—"
"Mom!" Samantha protested bleakly. This, she could understand from her dad, who disapproved of her… extracurriculars, career, living with Lara, almost everything she did, really, but if her mother thought she needed someone to babysit her—
"I tell him I call. But I don't." Her mother finished. "Don't make me regret it, baby."
"I won't, Mom." Samantha breathed in relief. "I'm not going to have any parties."
"I know," Maria finished up wrapping her foot and taped it off on the top. "But I'm bad mother if I don't say." Maria leaned in and hugged her. Samantha hugged her mother back, grateful for her mom's understanding and trust in her.
"You're not a bad mother, Mom."
Maria squeezed her tighter. "I am glad you are safe." Maria articulated, then kissed her forehead. "Bless Lara." When she finally pulled away, she said. "I have maranhos downstairs. You eat before doctor." Casting her foot in the temporary hold once more, her mother handed her clothes. She followed her downstairs to take care of Lara.
Lara didn't wake that day or the next, not even the one after that. Samantha bid her mother a reluctant goodbye before her friend would even consider waking up. The transfer went through just fine that day, and Samantha appreciated having Lara back in a home she shared with Lara, but the absence of her mother made Samantha a little sad. She stayed with Lara mostly after, helping the nurse when circumstance called for it.
Lara took her sweet time waking. It wasn't until the fifth day after in-home care that she opened her eyes again, and Samantha almost missed it for how sleepy she'd become, only dozing off hours in the bed next to Lara. Honey brown eyes blinked open where they hadn't in days. It took Samantha an instant to notice it at all. "'am?" Lara croaked, almost unable to speak at all. Samantha blinked at her, then bolted upright in sitting.
"Lara!" Lara started to move, but Samantha put her hands on her to stop that. "Don't move, Lara. You'll hurt yourself."
Lara glanced down at her body. Even with the minor scrapes mostly scabbed over and well on their way to healing, she still looked like a mummy, all wrapped up like that. Lara opened her mouth to speak, but only made a few indistinguishable noises. "Water!" Samantha detected; after a fever like that and being drip-fed for days, her throat must be so dry. "Do you want water?" Lara quietly nodded. Samantha got it for her and hurried back to see Lara struggling to sit up on her own.
"I said don't move," Samantha chastised, coming beside Lara on the bed. She extended an arm to help ease her into a sitting position against pillows and the headboard. She held the cup with her in case Lara felt too weak to hold it on her own. "Here," Samantha helped guide the cup to her lips. "Little sips."
While she took a few, Samantha explained.
"You went a little crazy on the boat. I don't know if you remember, you had such a high fever, but we landed a few days ago. I bought some home care; she's one of the best. So, that's where we are now."
Lara seemed a little out of it, tired and drained. She leaned back against the headboard, swallowed, and managed to ask, "How long?"
"Um… maybe about a week or so."
"A week!" Lara tried to exclaim, but only ended up coughing in a small fit.
"Hey," Samantha rubbed her back, "Take it easy. Don't get all excited over things." Her fingers lifted to Lara's hair, which she stroked gently to soothe. "Do you remember anything, Sweetie?" She helped Lara take another sip before she could try to answer first. Lara cringed, shoulders hunched as her eyes closed.
"A little…" Tears started to well in her eyes, making Samantha frown immediately. She'd up her pain medication dosage if Lara needed it. "He came at me. I had to… to— " Lara broke down shaking. Samantha wrapped her arm fully around her shoulders and gently squeezed Lara to her, bringing her head in against her as Lara shook and cried.
"Let it out," Samantha whispered, cradling her. "Tell me, if it helps." Lara curled to her, quiet, but let herself be held. When she didn't say anything for a moment after, Samantha stroked her arm. "You saved more than me, you know. None of us would've made it off that island if you didn't do everything you did to save us."
"We shouldn't have been there," Lara whispered in a croaked voice. "We wouldn't have been there if… if I hadn't…"
"You didn't know," Samantha squeezed. "None of us could've known. You can't fault yourself for that, Lara." Samantha hovered close over her head and kissed it. "That wasn't your fault."
"The crew," Lara whimpered, not hearing her, or just not listening. "Alex and Grimm." Lara stifled a sob. "Roth…"
"Lara," Samantha ached for her friend. Lara curled her face into her neck and cried. "They weren't your fault, Lara." Samantha vainly tried to get through. "It wasn't your fault." She held her as her friend kept mourning and tried to quiet her in soothing. Eventually, Lara's energy died out. Samantha could still feel her slow tears, but at least the shaking stopped. Lara leaned her tired head back against Samantha's shoulder, seeing things in her head Samantha couldn't imagine.
Knowing she couldn't take the guilt of their deaths from her friend, Samantha changed the subject in hopes of turning her thoughts from it. "What about you?" Samantha asked gently, "How are you feeling?"
"Like a blob." Lara replied miserably.
"I hope you're not thinking about escaping for a walk."
"I wanna train."
Samantha rolled her eyes, "You're impossible. You better not try to stand without me."
Lara blinked a couple of times and nudged her leg gently near her foot. "What happened to you?"
"It's nothing," Samantha passed off. "Just a little blistering from the fire." Lara turned her head to look at her with concern in her eyes. "Don't look at me like that," Samantha reprimanded, "Not when a third of your legs are crispy sticks." Lara glanced down at her body again where three separate spots on her legs had long wrapping over them, on her thigh, knee, and part of her side.
"Is it bad?"
Samantha almost laughed. "The doctor keeps telling us how lucky you are. They're mostly first and second degree, except where you burned yourself. They had to cut you open again there. Minor surgery, they said." Samantha scoffed. "Since when is any surgery minor?"
"Is that why my side's on fire?"
"You probably shouldn't be sitting up." Samantha reconsidered, starting to lower her, but Lara curled in protest.
"Please." Lara asked meekly. "My back hurts." Samantha's hand paused on the lower side of it. Lara closed her eyes and rested to the inside of Samantha's neck. "Sam…"
"It's okay, Lara." Samantha tried to ease. "Just rest. We'll up your pain meds when the nurse checks in again."
"Will it put me to sleep?" Lara asked tiredly, at a total loss of energy. Samantha didn't respond, but rubbed her middle back once more. Lara stayed quiet so long, she thought she might've drifted again, but after so long, Lara finally said. "I had to save you."
"I know, Lara. No one blames you," she repeated it, softer. "No one blames you, Lara." Samantha continued to almost pet her, careful to avoid her tender spots because it seemed to keep her more settled. "You know, seeing you after you stabbed that thing…" Samantha told her gently like a child, "Might've been the happiest moment of my life." Lara felt so warm against her, warm and comfortable. She breathed easy and seemed to be resting more, so Samantha went on. "I thought I was going to die more than once… and you came. Both times. You were always coming for me. That kept me going, you know. I kept thinking you'd come for me… and you did."
Lara didn't say anything. Her breathing had gone a little easier yet. Samantha held her to her body, wanting her nowhere else in the world right now. "I needed you and you came for me. When I looked up from that… that soul-transfer thing, I saw you, Lara… The most beautiful sight." Samantha's mind zapped away to that point, looking up at the pretty features of her best friend and savior. She reached out and cupped her lovely cheek, those soul-piercing honey eyes staring into her. When she saw Lara in the moment again, her head had tilted back to her shoulder and Samantha's hand was on her cheek again. Lara slumbered, eyes closed peacefully.
"I don't know if it was real," Samantha confessed to her quietly, "But I just wanted… wanted to touch you. To hold…." She soothed fingers over her still cheek. "And kiss…"
Lara's eyes opened at once. "Kiss?"
Samantha opened her mouth wordlessly for a moment. "You were asleep!"
"You kissed me."
"I'm about to slap you! You're supposed to be sleeping."
"What, you have some kind of kiss-radar or something?" Samantha balked.
"Were you going to kiss me again?" Lara closed her eyes once more like she was sleeping.
"I thought you didn't want to talk about it." Lara finally said, sobering as she opened pretty eyes on Samantha again. "You didn't say anything."
"I thought I'd dreamt it," Samantha confessed back, feeling a squirming in her stomach when Lara turned her eyes away. "You didn't say anything either, so..."
"I didn't want to pressure you," Lara said sweetly, which made Samantha smile a bit.
"Lara, my lips have been more places than yours have." Lara's brows furrowed together. It made Samantha smile a little more; it was the same troubled look Lara gave her when she danced with guys Lara didn't like. "You should've just said something."
"You were being all tentative and reserved…"
"Of course I was being tentative," Samantha stroked back at her hair in cradling her. "I thought I'd dreamed of passionately kissing my innocent best friend." Lara's furrowed frown-pout deepened, which only made Samantha feel better. "I also thought… I'd dreamed she liked it."
Lara shifted in a squirrely fashion, but when she met her eyes again, Lara had the confidence to ask. "Where's that leave us?"
"Well, I kinda liked it too, you know." Samantha eased, brushing her hair back behind her shoulder from her neck. Lara lowered her eyes and swallowed. "Hey, Sweetie," Samantha saw her nervousness and tried to sooth it. "This doesn't have to change anything between us if we don't want it to either." Lara stayed quiet against her body as Samantha pet her.
"It was my first."
"Hell of a one, I'd say. You rescue the pretty maiden and get a kiss." Samantha brought Lara over more on her chest. She could see less of her face this way, but now could stretch her full arm around her, which she did just under Lara's chest to avoid her side. "You wanna talk about it, Lara?"
"I don't know what to say."
"Did you like it too, or was I just dreaming that?"
"I liked it." Lara confirmed, giving her a little flutter of relief.
"That's good," Samantha secured her hold, stroking up her good arm. "Nothing worse than a girl rejected." Lara was still suspiciously quiet; Samantha didn't like that much. "Baby, why so quiet? Are you scared? …Ashamed?"
"Sam, no." Lara protested that quickly. "It's not that."
"What is it?" When Lara shifted against her, but hesitated to speak again, Samantha tried to figure it. "You know… one kiss doesn't mean you're gay, Lara."
Lara choked and coughed, "Sam— "
"I'm just saying, Lara. I've kissed girls before, present company included, and I don't consider myself a lesbian."
"Sam, I'm gay." Lara coughed, and this time Samantha could tell it covered a laugh. Samantha quirked an eyebrow.
"How do you even know that? I've never seen you romantic with anyone."
"I haven't been." Lara confirmed.
"So…" Samantha prodded.
"I don't know," Lara shifted, "All the times you dragged me to the club, telling me about guys, trying to get me to dance with them…"
"Yucky?" Samantha asked with a small and growing smile.
"I'll just say I 'danced' closest to you for a reason besides shyness."
"So… you've been crushing on me." Samantha deduced.
"What? No." Lara protested, "It's not like that. I didn't— not until we kissed, I didn't— "
"Alright, alright," Samantha eased, stroking up her arm. "I believe you, Sweetie. Shh." When Lara had settled again, Samantha gently chastised. "I can't believe you didn't tell me that you're gay. Do you know how many stories I've told you about guys trying to perk your interest about them?"
"Don't remind me."
Samantha grinned. "I would've revised the stories if I knew I could catch your attention some other way."
"You've slept with girls?" Lara asked, twisting around to see her.
"Oh, so now you wanna hear?"
"Shut up." Lara turned her head back forward.
Samantha squeezed her gently with her arm. "Didn't know there was some closet sexuality in your bookish little head."
"Past tense?" Samantha teased gently.
"You're the one that kissed me," Lara protested cutely. "I didn't make it weird."
"You feel weird with me now, Sweetie?" Samantha asked with a hint of worry. That was the last thing she'd want between her and Lara. They'd been closer than sisters almost all their lives. It'd kill her to open a distance between them because she'd kissed her friend on a spur of the moment urge because Lara seemed irresistible then.
Lara half avoided the question. "I really liked kissing you, Sam."
"Lara, that's okay." Samantha hugged her in. "I liked it too, Lara. It's okay."
"I'm sorry for making a big deal out of this."
"You don't have to be sorry for anything, Lara." Samantha shook her head. This was a bigger deal for Lara, she understood. She didn't mind Lara fretting about it. "You wanna talk about what we can do about it?" Samantha asked, assuming Lara would need some guidance to talk about it.
"Sure…" Lara agreed tentatively, wanting to, but probably shy of it.
"Well," Samantha started out slowly for her, "If you wanna move on from it, we can both accept that I kissed you, we both liked it, and that's that. Or…" Lara tilted her head back to look at her with doe-like brown eyes. Samantha found them instantly enticing. Like a trance, she was back in that moment when she'd cradled her cheek to kiss her. Samantha wanted to do that again.
"Or what?" Lara asked through perfect lips, staring up at her like that. Samantha lifted a hand to her cheek, but didn't move in on her friend. She looked deep into her warm eyes and smiled a little.
Samantha smiled softly. Her fingers brushed back to Lara's hairline. "You should take some time to think about it, Lara. If you wanted to try it again… just tell me."
"I want to kiss you."
"Well, that's not a lot of time, but— " Lara took her off-guard then in initiating. The angle was awkward and Lara, clumsy, but their mouths together felt heavenly, better than a lot of kisses she'd shared, which was funny because Lara wasn't skilled in the act, but she tasted so good, making her warm like an experienced friend.
When Lara pulled away, her eyes were closed and she drew in a deep breath before turning her head down and away. "I'm sorry."
"Sweetie," Samantha secured her arm and kissed the top of her turned-down head. "You can kiss me whenever you want. Don't feel bad about it."
"I shouldn't have." Lara insisted, still looking down at the floor. "I don't want this to come between us, Sam."
"Nothing has to come between us." Samantha shook her head, "Look, Lara: you're injured and tired. This is a lot to take in at once for you. You should rest on it and take some more time. If you're over our kisses by then, that's that, no harm done. If you still wanna kiss me after… we can work from there, right? Stuff doesn't have to change between us." She clung to her back. "You're important to me, Lara. That's not gonna change, kisses or no. Does that sound good?" Lara hesitated. "Lara?"
"Okay," Lara finally agreed. "Thanks, Sam." Samantha held her and Lara finally rested again.