Billy had been carried through the halls, the bright swinging lights on the ceiling passing by overhead. His face was rubbing into something rough and there was wet warmth on his chest. He didn’t have the energy to feel around. There was a far-off voice but Billy couldn’t hear it- everything was too loud and too muffled and there was a white-noise ringing that made Billy turn his head deeper into the strong arms that were holding him.
Watching the floor pass by wasn’t any better than watching the ceiling. The cracked tiles zoomed past and Billy felt nauseous as the ground seemed to rise up to meet him. He wasn’t alone either. He could see many different pairs of feet sprinting beside him at different paces and one that ran in time with the swaying but Billy couldn’t remember who wore thick black and purple boots.
His head hurt- a heavy pounding that the bright lights and loud voices didn’t help in the slightest but when he tried to voice his discomfort his words came out in a slurred jumble and the swaying became more urgent as the person carrying him sped up.
Exhausted, Billy gave up on trying to stay conscious and closed his eyes against the gentle swaying. But not before he felt the gentle pressure of lips on his forehead.
He woke up once more, with beeping loud around his ears and a tube down his throat. He gagged on it and around him, people dressed in blue and white rushed around in a panic. Tears spring forth in his eyes but before the anaesthesia could kick in again he blearily caught sight of a hunched form in the corner, a shock of blond hair the only brightness in the rapidly closing darkness and Billy focused on him until his eyes closed again.
Time became a strange thing for a while, but while he couldn’t hear or see or speak, he could most defiantly feel. He felt a heavier form lay down in the bed next to him and lightly trace a finger over his chest. A hand on his shoulder. Fingers through his hair. Kisses on his cheeks. The vibrations of long-winded and worried conversations. Legs up on the end of the bed. A sleeping head on his chest. None of it mattered because still, Billy didn’t know what was going on. Not really.
After a while, he opened his eyes for good and he was not in the room he had expected to be. Instead of white walls and IV poles and sterile surfaces and an empty chair by the bed, the walls were pained a dull blue and the bed was soft with covers tucked up to his neck and the room was empty save for the single person sitting in the occupied armchair beside him, someone with blonde hair and piercings and more bulk than should be possible for only being a teenager.
Teddy was watching the muted TV with vague disinterest, his head pillowed on his palm and his legs crossed over one and another. He didn’t notice Billy so he reached a hand out and placed it on his knee. Teddy jumped with a yelp and snapped his head to Billy. The relief on his face was so strong that Billy could almost feel it like a wave. “Hey there handsome,” Teddy whispered, leaning towards Billy. “I was getting a little worried that you wouldn’t wake up.”
“How long was I out?” Billy muttered, voice rough from disuse and a plastic tube being shoved down his throat not that long ago. He placed a shaky hand to his head and closed his eyes against the sudden burst of nausea. “And what the hell happened? I don’t remember anything besides being carried down the hallway.” He looked up through his fingers at Teddy. “Was that you? Did you carry me?”
Nodding, Teddy reached out and gripped the hand that was still on the bed. “You didn’t move out of the way in time for the claws to miss you and they got you in the chest.” Teddy fiddled with the ring on Billy’s finger. “You’ve been out for a couple of weeks.”
Billy choked on his spit in surprise and winced at the pain that radiated from his chest as Teddy helped him sit up to cough. “That might be a new record for us. Two weeks? That’s crazy.”
“I know,” Teddy ran his fingers through Billy’s hair and Billy leaned eagerly into the touch. “I was worried sick. I thought I was going to lose you, Billy. I never want to go through that again.”
Shakily, Billy smiled up at him and placed his hand on Teddy’s cheek. “I know, and I’m so sorry that I wasn’t careful enough. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again but I can promise that I’ll try harder to not let it happen.”
Teddy took the hand on his cheek between his fingers and kissed the skin on the back of Billy’s hand as lightly and delicately as a butterfly’s wings. “That’s all I can ask for. I think we can both learn to be a little more cautious when we’re out on the field. You never know what might happen.”
“Have you been here the whole time?” Billy asked voice quiet as he gently ran his thumb over Teddy’s hand.
“Of course,” Teddy scoffed as though it was obvious. “Why wouldn’t I? You’re my boyfriend. I love you. Why wouldn’t I stay here with you? I didn’t want you to be alone. I even came when they said it was just family- your parents tried to convince them that I was family but the nurses wouldn’t budge, so some days I just changed into your mum and the doctors had no idea.”
Billy expelled a thin stream of air out of his mouth as he laughed. “I’m sure you gave her quite a scare when she walked in to visit me and she was already in the room.” Billy joked. The faint laugh that he managed to surprise out of Teddy was music to his ears. He lifted his hand from under the covers and placed it on Teddy’s abdomen, where he knew a long, gnarly scar still stood stark against his skin. “I guess now we match.” He whispered and glanced down at the bandages covering his torso.
The energy seemed to leave Teddy in one big rush and he collapsed against Billy, half leaning over the railings on the bed and collided his forehead gently with Billy’s. “I’m so glad you’re alright. I was so worried… I was scared I’d never see you again, or tell you how much I loved you or-”
Billy reached his hand up and placed his fingers lightly on Teddy’s lips, shushing him. “You didn’t lose me,” he said gently. “I’m still here. And I’m not going anywhere.”
And then Teddy kissed him, soft and sweet and everything that Billy needed right at that moment and so much more all at the same time. When Teddy finally, eventually pulled away, eyes glazed and lips pink, he panted harshly on Billy’s skin and the witch was struck again by how much he loved the man before him. “Sorry,” Teddy breathed though he didn’t really sound all that sorry at all. “I couldn’t help myself.”
“I’m not complaining,” Billy’s laugh was airy as if Teddy had sucked all the oxygen out of his lungs with an act so simple as the kiss. “You can do it again if you want. If you really can’t stop yourself, of course.”
“I would, but I promised I’d call your mum the moment you woke up,” Teddy said but made no move to do that. Instead, he stayed hunched over the railing, smoothing back the unruly strands of Billy’s black hair away from his forehead and Billy leant into the gentle contact. “And you woke up a little bit ago and I haven’t so much as picked up the phone.”
“Don’t call her yet,” Billy brought Teddy’s hand to his lips kissed his knuckles. “I just want to spend this time with you. Just for a little bit longer.”
Teddy bent down and pressed his nose to Billy’s, who gazed up in his bright blue eyes with nothing but wonder and love. His eyes were bright and glittering with tears like diamonds and Billy wanted to fall inside them and drown in them forever. “I’ve already lost my mum,” He whispered, his breath ghosting across Billy’s face. “I’ve lost everything that’s ever mattered to me. I’m not going to lose you too. So you’re going to rest, and you’re going to get better, and you’re going to come back to me, you hear?”
There was something so earnest and powerful on Teddy’s face that Billy felt like his brain had been knocked out of his head. He was nodding before he even knew why. “That’s a promise I can keep.”
Smiling, Teddy pulled away and sat back in his chair and Billy already found himself missing and craving his touch. He fiddled with the phone with the curling red cord and looked at Billy with a sly grin. “I know I have to call your mum, but do you think I should call her first or Tommy?”
Billy knew exactly what would happen if Tommy were to arrive at his room in a hurry, papers flying everywhere and the room being tossed in disarray as he came to a stop at the foot of Billy’s bed. “Don’t call anyone yet. I don’t want to deal with losing my hearing as well as being dissected by a monster’s claws.”
“Oh, come on Billy,” Teddy’s eyes glinted as he dialled in the number and brought the phone to his ear. “Where’s the fun in that?”
“Teddy, listen for once in your life, don’t call them.”
“Nurse?” Teddy said into the phone and Billy frowned in confusion. Catching his look, Teddy winked and turned back to the phone. “Yeah, this is Teddy, from Billy Kaplan’s room. Yes, that’s right. I was just wondering if you could bring up that order I put in this morning? Yes, please. Thank you. Have a nice day.”
With a sly grin, Teddy put the phone away and kissed Billy quickly on the lips. Billy was so confused and surprised that he didn’t even kiss back. “What was that?” he asked, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What are you planning?”
“Oh, nothing,” Teddy looked like a kid in a lolly shop as he stood from his seat to answer the door. “I just thought you deserved a nice surprise is all.” He returned with a grey covered tray and a gleaming grin. He placed it on a table beside Billy’s bed and lifted the lid to reveal a finely decorated cake with blue buttermilk icing and the words “get well soon Billy” written on it in a purple gel.
Billy took it from his outstretched hands in confusion and held it on his lap. “Oh,” he said dumbly, staring at it. “Thanks? What’s this for?”
“I wanted you to know how much I loved you,” Teddy sat back down and while that cheeky grin was wiped from his face, his eyes were glinting with something much stronger than mischief and brighter than pain. Something akin to adoration- an adoration that Billy felt like he didn’t deserve. “I put the order into that cake shop across the street and picked it up this morning while you were still asleep. The nurse at the front desk said she would keep it in the fridge at her station until I needed it.”
“You didn’t have to do all that,” Billy said quietly, amazed. “You big oaf, you’re so sweet. I want to kiss you but I’m worried about tipping this cake and getting icing all over my face.”
Teddy laughed as he bent over the railing again, a deep chuckle that seemed to shake him to his very core and Billy always loved when he managed to make him laugh like that. It was better than any spell he could ever think to conjure. “If that’s all you wanted, all you had to do is ask.”