Etta was hiding. Bertie knew it. Kate had told him what had happened, and he hated that she blamed herself for this but he couldn’t make himself let go of Roger’s hand. He knew they should be out searching for Percy and Nora, checking on Bob, tending his garden, any number of important tasks that Roger would normally be kicking their asses on.
But... But fuck, Roger almost died today. Almost bled out on the Watchtower floor before their eyes. Bertie glanced around and pressed a furtive kiss to Roger’s hand, pressing the cold appendage to his chapped lips like a secret promise. Roger was still pale, still cold, still... still. It was eerie. Bertie hated it. He wanted Roger to open those beautiful obsidian eyes again. He wanted them to go sharp when Etta dithered around, and stormy when Bertie wasted his time with plant stories, and suspicious when Kate ran off to the archives yet again, and soft when he thought no one was looking.
He missed Roger’s eyes. He missed Roger. His heart had stopped dead in his chest when Kate and Etta had called him with frantic voices demanding he prep the infirmary. He’d just gotten his heart pumping again when the girls carried Roger into the infirmary, pale and limp and covered in blood. Bertie had had to grab the edge of the counter to steady himself. He’d had to bite his lip to keep from sobbing when they set their supervisor on the bed and his arm had dangled lifelessly over the side. He’d actually had to sit down when Kate started yelling orders and staunching the blood flow, her hands so coated with blood (Roger’s blood) it looked like she was wearing scarlet gloves.
It had been some of the worst few hours of their time at Watchtower 10, and everyone was tense and wired and exhausted when it was finally done. The crew had spent at least half an hour afterward standing around his bed and just... watching him. Counting his breaths. Watching the rise and fall of his chest. Etta had left first, unable to bear the sight of him lying drugged up, unmoving and still. Because of her, or so she was convinced. Kate had followed soon after, off to go... do whatever Kate did, that steely determination flaring in her eyes. Bertie stayed. He couldn’t bear to leave Roger alone in the dim and cold infirmary. He couldn’t make himself let go of his hand. A part of him was terrified that if he was left unattended he would shatter like the glass on the Kraken. Like John.
He couldn’t lose Roger like he lost John. The fact that Roger had survived this had been a miracle. He’d lost... so much blood...
“Bertie?” Etta’s quiet voice broke him from his thoughts. He looked up at her, at her slumped shoulders and bloodshot eyes. She looked like shit. He probably looked the same.
“Hey.” he replied, voice a little more hoarse than he’d expected. How long had he been sitting here in silence, contemplating the man with the prickly exterior and obsidian eyes? Etta’s own eyes drifted from his face to Roger’s, tightening at the sight of him. She didn’t move from the doorway. She didn’t take another step into the infirmary.
“He doesn’t blame you.” Bertie said softly, guessing what was bothering her, “He knows it wasn’t your fault.”
“It was.” she sniffled, her voice small, “I believed her. I untied Percy.”
“And Nora chose to stab him anyway.” he tightened his grip on Roger’s hand, steadying his breathing lest he fall into a panic attack, “They did this, not you.” Etta didn’t believe him. He could see it. She was too deep in the idea that she could have prevented this. Like she could have protected Roger.
Like Roger would have allowed it.
“Can I sit with you guys?” she whispered, wringing her hands, “Is it... Would he mind?”
“I think if Roger were awake,” he mused, “he’d bitch and moan and act like he didn’t want us bothering him.”
“But he’d secretly treasure every second of it.” she gave a watery smile, “And he’d get even moodier if we listened to him and left.”
“Get in here.” he smiled, “His other hand is looking a little chilly.” She returned his smile, slowly moving into the infirmary to take a seat by Roger’s other side. It took some urging for Bertie to get her to take Roger’s hand, helped along by him pointing out that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hold Roger’s hand that would never come again. He gave a small smile when she slipped Roger’s limp hand between hers, counting it as a victory.
“Everything is so quiet without his constant ragging.” she sniffled, absently rubbing his hand as if to warm it, “He’d kill me if he saw us right now.”
“‘Don’t touch me, I hate being touched, why are you wasting my time, clean up the chocolate fountain, go do the traffic report’.” Bertie gave his best Roger impression, giving a proud smile when Etta gave her first real laugh in hours.
“You’ve been spending too much time with him.” she giggled, “When are you gonna kiss him already?” Bertie went bright red, sputtering.
“I-I don’t-I couldn’t possibly-I-I-It isn’t like that, I-“ Etta cut him off with a bright laugh.
“Kate and I have a bet on who will cave first.” she giggled, seeming to cheer up a little, “I think you will.”
“Roger is just so stuffy, I can’t see him making the first move. But Kate says that you-“
“Hm?” she asked innocently, “Oh, sorry, I was supposed to keep that a secret.” she giggled cutely, and Bertie felt his blood pressure rise. He was so, so grateful that Roger wasn’t awake to hear this.
“Do not bring this up when Roger is awake!”
“Etta, it wouldn’t work, okay? He’s our supervisor, and he’s Roger, and I-I could never-“
“Just kiss him now.” she gasped, “Like sleeping beauty!”
“That’s so creepy!” he exclaimed.
“Is not! It’s romantic!”
“Would you want someone macking on you while you slept?”
“No! Well... Maybe Kate.” she giggled. Bertie rolled his eyes, and then an idea sparked in his mind.
“So.” he smirked, mischief in his eyes, “You seem invested in me and Roger.”
“Yeah?” she blinked.
“But how about you tell me about you and Kate?”
Now it was Etta’s turn to flush.