Blip, blip blip, blip, blip
The steady beeping of heart monitors roused your sedated brain to consciousness.
Blip, blip, blip, blip, blip
It felt as though your head was stuffed with cotton wool – everything was warm and fuzzy, and you felt sort of…disconnected from your own body. You couldn't feel anything, though your drug-pumped brain couldn't process why.
You slowly started to regain feeling in your limbs, and were alerted to a slight pressure building on your upper left arm. Keeping your eyes firmly shut, you listened to the whoosh of the blood-pressure machine as it deflated quietly.
As you silently took stock of the new feelings and sensations coursing through your slowly-awakening limbs, you took in some deep, steady breaths. From what your groggy mind could work out, it sounded like you were in a… hospital?
But why? What was going on?
Swallowing thickly, it felt as though you hadn't drank anything in days. Frowning, you fought to open your eyes - they felt like the lids were glued shut. After what seemed like an eternity, you managed to pry them open. At first, your surroundings were just a blur of pale colours with no real meaning, but as they sharpened, you realized that you were, in fact, in a hospital.
White walls, shiny linoleum floors, the smell of antiseptic cloying at your throat… everything seemed so sterile. You blinked rapidly to rid the dryness in your eyes, squinting in the harsh light thrown down from the fluorescent lights overhead. Something stirred next to you, shifting slightly. You slowly turned your head towards the distraction, muscles screaming in protest – everything was so stiff; it felt as though you hadn't even moved for days.
Your sensitive eyes took in a pale hand with long fingers intertwined with your own; unkempt silvered hair; a weathered iron cross clenched in another hand resting on the edge of the bed you lay on. Your stomach clenched.
"Gil?" you voice was hoarse and cracked; it hurt to speak.
Gilbert stirred from his seemingly light sleep and raised his head, stretching his neck and shoulders as he did so. He blinked his dull ruby eyes a few times, trying to chase away any signs of grogginess. His eyes came to focus on your face, and it seemed to take him a while to register that you were actually awake and speaking to him.
When he eventually did realize that you were, in fact, awake, his eyes widened and he seized you in a bone-crushing hug. "_________! Dank Gott you're finally awake!"
Your stomach clenching even more in a mixture of apprehension and confusion, you pulled Gilbert to you and buried your face in the crook of his neck. "Gil, what's going on?" you voice was small and weak, tinged with fear.
He pulled back, looking at you worriedly. "You don't remember?"
You paused for a moment, chest swelling with a mixture of different feelings and emotions as the events of what seemed like eons ago started filtering back into your mind. You had been reading… Gil was there… and then Ivan…
Tiny pieces of a memory started to flash through your mind's eye, your brain kicking itself into gear - slowly but surely, the puzzle pieces started falling back into place.
You swallowed dryly, terror evaporating all moisture from your mouth, eyes flickering nervously to the open doorway to your ward. "Ivan…" you choked out, your grip tightening on Gilbert's hand.
The albino read your thoughts, pulling you back into his warm embrace as fresh tears spilled down your gaunt cheeks.
"You don't have to worry about that… that psychopath," he muttered soothingly, stroking your hair comfortingly. "I won't let him get anywhere near you again, liebling."
You bit your lip and clung to the albino cradling you in his arms. "W-why would he have done s-something like t-that?" you sobbed, painfully aware of the dull throbbing in your midsection. You tried to blink away the tears flowing down your cheeks as you glanced down at the gap in your paper gown – stark white bandages were wrapped around your midriff, a reminder of what had landed you in hospital in the first place.
"He's crazy, _________. You don't have to worry about him anymore. All you have to worry about is getting better and getting out of this place," Gilbert rubbed gentle circles over your back, tucking your head under his chin in an almost protective gesture. "The awesome me is here now, you don't have to worry about a thing."
The thought of Ivan actually having shot you over something so trivial made you sob even harder. To think you had even been as nice to the Russian as possible… and then he started threatening your boyfriend, pointing a gun at his head… it was something you knew you would never have been able to allow. If anything happened to Gilbert… your fingers clutched his jacket almost desperately.
He was here, you could hold him; you could feel him; you could hear him. He was okay. It didn't matter that you had taken a bullet and landed up in a hospital bed… all that mattered was that he was okay.
"I'm just so glad that you're alright," your voice shook as you took deep, uneven breaths. You heard the steady blip of the heart monitor become more erratic.
"I'm alright?" Gilbert's tone was incredulous. "________, you were shot! You should be more worried about yourself!"
You shook your head, biting your lip. "I just couldn't let anything happen to you…"
Gilbert dropped a kiss on the top of your head and chuckled. "Frau, I'm too awesome to get hurt – I can look after myself, you should know that by now," he joked, wrapping his arms more securely around you.
You chuckled along with him, but grimaced when pain shot through your side. Gilbert noticed your reaction and kissed your cheek, smiling gently.
"I think you should just focus on getting yourself out of here, frau. You don't belong in a hospital bed," he said softly.
A thought popped into your head and you smirked. "It's the dishes again, isn't it?"
"Hey! Why would I bring up the dishes at a time like-"
He sighed. "Maybe they're piling up a little…"
"Okay fine. We don't have any clean ones left."
"… You're hopeless."
"Just concentrate on getting out of here so you can come home and be surrounded by my awesomeness again."
You smiled. It felt good to go back to some of the normal banter you and Gilbert usually shared. It made things feel better.
"And help you with the dishes."
Two weeks later, you were finally back at yours and Gilbert's shared apartment on the college campus. After numerous operations to repair internal damage caused by the bullet, the doctors had finally allowed you to go home, on the condition that you rested and didn't do any strenuous activity that would re-open the wound.
You stood in the quiet hallway as Gilbert unlocked the front door. You were glad it was already late at night and the other students were fast sleep – you didn't feel up to having a thousand pairs of curious eyes trained on you. You had no doubt in your mind that the news of your and Ivan's… incident had spread like wildfire through the campus already – it wouldn't take juicy news like that long to hit the grape vine.
Gilbert pushed the front door open and flicked on the light switch, motioning for you to enter with his trademark grin. You smiled back and folded her arms over your waist, subconsciously trying to hide what you felt was an obvious ridge formed by the bandages under your shirt. You hobbled inside the apartment, taking a deep breath. It felt good to be home again.
You glanced around the living room – you were surprised that Gilbert had managed to keep it so tidy. Only a few scattered items of clothing were tossed over the back of the couch, as compared to the floor-drobe that tended to form after your boyfriend was left alone for long periods of time.
You heard Gilbert close the door behind him. A pair of toned arms wound themselves carefully around your waist as he rested his head on your shoulder. "Welcome home, liebling."
You smiled, threading your fingers between his and leaning your head against his temple. "It's good to be back."
Gilbert placed a quick kiss on your shoulder before moving away and heading down the corridor leading to your bedroom, whistling absent-mindedly to himself. You chuckled to yourself and shook your head at his antics, before making your way into the kitchen with a certain sense of foreboding.
As neat as the living room may have been, you still didn't trust yourself to think that Gilbert had managed to keep the kitchen relatively hazard-free…
You felt around for the light switch on the inside of the doorway and held your breath. It flickered into life and your eyes scanned the relatively clean table and counter with some surprise. But when your gaze hit the sink virtually overflowing with a mountain of dirty dishes, you sighed and rolled your eyes. Gilbert had certainly been telling the truth when he said that there were no clean dishes left – it looked like he had emptied the entire cabinet out into the sink. And left it there to fester for a few days.
You took a few steps into the kitchen, your hygiene instincts telling you that it would be a health hazard to leave the dishes unwashed for much longer. You reached the sink and rolled the sleeves of your jacket up, reaching for the tap. Before your hand could reach it though, Gilbert magically appeared behind you and pulled you away.
"Now now, ___________ - the doctor said no strenuous activity until you're better," he admonished, steering you away from the sink and out of the kitchen.
"But, the dishes…" you protested weakly as you were seated down on the couch in the living room.
Gilbert stood infront of you with his hands on his hips and a comically stern expression on his face. You just couldn't help but chuckle at it. Seeing Gilbert so serious was severely out of character for him.
"No 'buts'," he shook his head. "I'll take care of everything, you need to rest."
"But I've been lying in a bed for the past two weeks!" you whined, slumping against the back of the couch. "I want to do something! And anyway, do you even know how you wash the dishes?" you teased with a smirk.
Gilbert tossed his head indignantly and strutted off to the kitchen while calling over his shoulder, "I'm awesome! I've got it covered!"
You laughed as hard as your wounded ribcage would allow. Yes, it certainly was good to be home again.