It had been a week of us “relaxing” at the hotel, our jet still land ridden, and Moti still missing. The emptiness on my wrist felt suffocating somehow, what I was able to do was severely limited due to the absence of my digital companion. The air was cold, frosty, it nipped at my skin and made me feel sick to my stomach for no reason. Etienne had comforted me as much as he could, although I never asked for it due to his opinion on technology… But he was supportive and helpful when he noticed my dark looks at my wrist and my exhausted staring.
I sighed, disappointed. We had been drawing straws for going out and buying groceries, and while whoever had to get the food got to choose what we ate.. It still was exhausting to leave the comforts of the warm hotel room to get pointless sustenance.
I hadn’t been taking care of myself since I started hunting for Moti. I felt that there were more important things than that, finding Moti. He must be scared without me, and the idea made me feel even more sick to my stomach.
Maybe noodles? Noodles and rice? The problem with being stuck in a foreign country with a language I could not read nor translate was that I didn’t know what anything said. I didn’t know where to find food, and I could only identify grocery stores by their front windows.
I looked up at a sign above, I think I had found my restaurant. I don’t know what they sell, however the smell coming from the doors was pretty heavenly. I immediately took out my wallet and looked over what the others had given me. It was the first time going out of the hotel- I had been fairly lucky with my straw pickings - and I wasn’t quite sure about the paying part of my food trip.
I fumbled and dropped my wallet like a dumbass, it flopped onto the ground in front of me and I stared at it blankly, as if it was a foreign object. I sighed and went down to pick it up-
Before excruciating pain rippled through my shoulder, and a second pain erupting in my lower back. My eyes widened and I fell to my knees and a loud noise echoed through my ears, my body felt warm. I stared down at my wallet while the world around me turned less important than my license staring back up at me.
It was blurry.
My hands went up immediately to my wounds, my shoulder bleeding profusely while my back hunched. I grabbed my wallet and began to panic, what had happened? Had I been shot? People around me screamed and ran, but no more shots came. I heard nothing, it all seemed distant. I had never felt this sort of pain before, and I almost wanted death to take me away from it.. But I stumbled back into reality and realized the intensity of this situation. There was someone near who had shot me, in a crowd of people they missed all the bystanders and hit only me. There had to have been a sniper in one of the nearby buildings.. But there wasn’t any time to think too hard about it. I had to run.
Grabbing my wallet with a shaky hand I got up from my hunched position, and I heard a third shot ring out before I began sprinting into the crowd. I couldn’t lead whoever had followed me and shot me back to my hotel, but I was losing blood and Moti wasn’t by my side to talk me through my injuries, tell me how fucked I was. I stumbled through the crowd and screams followed behind me.
There was a buzzing in my ears, nothing felt real.
It almost felt like I was dying, but I was luckier than that, albeit not by much.
I scrambled with my phone, my sticky blood making it difficult to handle but I was soon rewarded by my phone opening and allowing me to reach the call button for Delores.
Before she could even get her words out I cried into the phone.
"I've been shot!" was the only coherent sentence I could get out of my trembling lips. My hands shook, slick with my blood. "I'm bleeding out-"
"Where were you shot?"
"Shoulder, my lower back- oh God it hurts- " I gasped. It was horrible, ripping through my body and legs as I ran. I turned a corner quickly and almost went tumbling, my legs tingle from the intense ripping pain from my lower back. I desperately wished Moti was with me at this moment, telling me how my bullet holes were bleeding and how large of a chance I had to live.
“Get to the hotel, now.” Delores stated quickly after a second of thought, I assumed. I sighed deeply.. I was never much of a runner, not quite the opposite, I wasn’t in the best shape I could be in. I liked to think my lack of superb running abilities allowed my physical strength more freedom, yet I’m not sure how honest that is.
I was exhausted by the time I reached the hotel. Face at least paler, hands much bloodier than before and my mouth outrageously dry. I was soaked, my clothes splotched and sticky against my skin, warm and unsettling. I was seconds away from collapsing if it wasn’t for Crank scooping me up, rushing me inside where I was greeted by Delores in her suite.
I had to hand it to her, she was quite resourceful.
Laid out around her were medical supplies, her kitchen almost a makeshift hospital with the table cleaned with a cloth over it being the hospital bed. She had her dark hair tied back and she wore latex gloves, I almost felt a sense of pride of notifying her of my condition before arriving, but I couldn’t think about that now. All that clouded my thoughts was how the pain slacked upon the weight of standing was taken from me, how my body felt numb, and how one thought came into light-
I was very tired.
My eyes were heavy and lifting my head from where it dangled in Crank’s arms felt too difficult a task. My breathing rasped and I felt fearful I would suddenly stop breathing all together. The idea of failing to take in the air I needed, it was scary. I finally gave in and shut my eyes, exhausted and worn out, my vision was blurry anyway. One of my arms dangled while the other rested on my stomach, and I felt vulnerable in such a position of pain. The world around me dark, the voices and sounds I heard, muffled, and I felt warm all over. It was comfortable, in a way, my wounds having been long forgotten by my consciousness.
“Ms. Montague??” Maybe not quite yet was I ready to drift off. My eyes forced themselves open as I saw two blurry figures coming towards me as I felt my back hit a surface gently. I didn’t think Crank could be so cosseted with someone other than maybe Dagger. Those two seemed close. “Delores! What happened?” I could hardly make out what this new voice was saying, but it sounded like-
“Etti?” I murmured groggily, not realizing how scratchy and dry my throat had become. It was quite uncomfortable, I’d have to ask for some water. “Et…” my voice squeaked painfully and I closed my mouth in disappointment, deciding it was best not to talk for now.
“Hey! Hey hun, hey hun…” He stopped next to me and I felt his fingers rake through my hair, a comfort I felt lucky to have. “Ms. Montague.. what happened?”
“Shot. Our position seems compromised because of this fool.” She shot a glare in my direction, I know she did. I noticed the second person who had run towards us, and I was surprised to see Dr. Wong appear at my bedside. Well, tableside.
“I’m.. m.. ‘m sorry…” I forced out again in a pathetic squeak and Etienne shushed me immediately. I felt my eyes droop dangerously- and I felt sleep in my future. I closed them again, my head lolling to the side.
“Hey, Teach, I know you wanna sleep right now but you can’t- let Delores fix you up and when we know…” He was losing me, and I felt a sudden disconnect and loss of interest in what he was talking about, sleep felt much more preferable. I licked my dry lips and felt hand reach either side of my face, warm hands on my suddenly cold skin.
Have I always been this cold? I felt so warm before.. Why did it change?
“Oh no- Ms. Montague- fever.” Etienne’s voice trembled and I leaned into his hands, closing my mouth and relaxing.
Then, there was pain.
First, I couldn’t tell where. My upper body seemed to ignite in excruciating pain and I bit back the urge to scream in agony. I squeezed my eyes shut, knowing what was happening without even opening them. She was closing and cleaning my shoulder- and I was fully conscious for it!
“No.. please!” I was starting to get a grasp on how my body works and my arms jerked uselessly at my sides. Shaking my head, trying to break free of the strong grasp of Etienne’s hands holding my head. I whined out and kicked my legs, trying to tell them how much it tortured me to be held down like this, hardly even realizing that the others were holding me down as Delores did her dirty work on my wounds. I could almost throw up, it felt as if bile was rising up my throat and going back down in a constant chain, it was horrible.
“Etti, please!” He begged to my friend this time. It was a low blow, and I knew it was. I felt him flinch against me before shushing me in a soft tone I appreciated greatly. I felt him shift around until my head was pressed up against soft fabric, a rhythmic breathing calming me. He must have pressed my head against his chest, or stomach, or something. I didn’t know, and couldn’t tell.
I felt them try and shift me around.
“Just your back now, kid.” I heard Delores and I scowled at being called a kid. My offense was short lived, however, as they turned me onto my side. I howled and buried my face into the closest warm object to keep myself from completely blowing out my throat from yelling.
There was an overwhelming heaviness that fell atop me, and while nothing was holding me down, it felt like my subconsciousness telling me that I needed to fall asleep.
And I was in no position to argue.
I let the darkness consume me…
I woke up slowly to the sound of a persistent beeping.
I furrowed my brows. What?
My head was pressed up against a soft pillow and my hand rested by my side. There was a warmth pressed up against my right side and my chest felt a bit heavy.
Groaning, I opened my tired eyes and squinted around the room. It was dark out, the blinds seemed to be shut and the only light in the room was a lamp that illuminated from the bedside table. I tried to shift around but hissed in pain, deciding it wasn’t the best idea I had in my arsenal right now.
I lifted my arm, the one connected to my uninjured shoulder, and placed my hands atop the heaviness on my side.
It was a person.
Who was there? Who was next to me?
“He..llo…?” I whimpered and I felt the figure laying next to me shift.
“H.. huh?” The person mumbled and I immediately knew who it was.
“Etti? What.. what happened?” I mumbled softly and crooked my neck to look down at the other man. He was curled up next to me, head on my chest and arms wrapped around my sides in an almost protective fashion. His legs were sprawled out on top of mine, and I had half a mind to realize he must have been sleeping a little bit prior. “How long was I out?”
“5 hours and 15 minutes.” He mumbled quietly. I didn’t anticipate such a quick and specific answer. He looked up at me with his big grey eyes, but they seemed red and puffy and for the life of me I couldn’t tell why. I was alive, wasn’t I?
“What’s wrong, Etti?”
“We thought you were gonna die.” Etienne said abruptly, startling me. “I thought… I was scared. I was so scared.” I was speechless for once, knocked dumb by the park warden laying next to me on the soft hotel bed. “I shouldn’t have let you leave, you’re far too important to everyone-”
“No.” I cut him off, surprising him and myself with how stern and confident my voice was. “I’m no more important than everyone else, and you couldn’t have known this would happen.” I stated, sure of myself, and I noticed the park warden waver.
“You missed me, Etti? I’m flattered.” I flashed him a knowing smile and he blushed, his ears going red. He scowled I chuckled softly then winced at the movements. He jumped,
“Are you okay? Where does it hurt?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine, don’t worry.” I quickly soothed but he didn’t seem too calm. He was above me, arms on either side of my head and staring down at me with his handsome grey eyes and concerned features. I wanted to wipe away his worry.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure.” I grinned and leaned up despite my creaking bones and connected our lips in a surge of confidence. I didn’t expect my body to work so smoothly, and while all my other attempts to ask Etienne out had failed, I was hoping this one took the cake. I only hoped he would like me back-
He was kissing me in return. My eyes widened and I noticed he had shut his, my heart raced in my chest, beating so fast and so loud I thought it would explode out of my ribcage.
When we pulled away I felt a spark lingering on my lips, and I could taste the faint hint of syrup from breakfast. How funny, I could taste maple syrup on the canadian.
“Etienne.. I love you.” I mumbled quietly and he leaned forward again, sprawling himself over me. I was a bit taller than him by a few inches, and larger in build yet he didn’t lack in muscle once so ever. He was handsome, cute.
“I love you, too.” He murmured and hugged onto me, clinging. I sighed softly and chuckled again, wrapping my arms around him reassuringly.
“I’m alright, Etti, just a few holes. No biggie.” I joked.
“Shut up..” He snorted softly and buried his face into the crook of my neck. I hummed in acknowledgement, content, and finally comfortable after all that bullshit.
It felt so good to have him in my arms.