Mercedes woke up to a dull ache coursing through her head and the sound of someone shouting at her.
"Mercedes! Mercedes! MERCEDES!"
She groaned in response, but didn't move from her position on the ground. The voice muttered something that sounded like 'thank the Heavens' followed by a hiss and her eyes snapped open at the sound. Slowly, Mercedes lifted herself so she was on her knees, her head bent low to the ground as that awful pounding continued to beat into her skull. Her fingers curled into the brush and the leaves littering the ground as she tried to compose herself and recall everything that happened.
They were fighting a horde of drones William had sent after them. She remembered the shockwave of a spell pushing her off a cliff. Everyone's screams mixed together with the wind rushing past her ears. Someone diving off the life after her. Someone-
Her head whipped around in every direction until she found him propped up against a large gnarled tree trunk. Mercedes scrambled over to him, her mind driven by a mad mix of frantic worries and aches. A surge of pain raced through her head at the rush, but she brushed it aside as she looked Sam over.
Sam lifted his head from his chest as soon as her fingers gently cradled his face. He smiled at her despite his bloodied and split lower lip. "Hey."
"How are we not dead?"
Two streams of red ran down from his nose. Bruises decorated his face and more blood poured down from a cut on his forehead.
She paused for a moment. And then, "… hello."
"You remember that bag of whatever Quinn gave you?"
She nodded slowly and Sam laughed. Or attempted to if his scowl was any indication. Her hands fell to his chest and she closed her eyes, humming a short tune to assess the damage. She opened her eyes and frowned. A few of his ribs were cracked.
"Well, something in it slowed us down nicely. And buffered our landing… kind of."
Sam used his eyes to motion to his left and Mercedes unintentionally let out a small scream, stifling the noise with her hands. His left arm hung uselessly against his side, completely broken and bloody.
He flinched before she even touched him. "It's not that bad. I've had worse." Mercedes filed away her demand to know when and why that happened for later. He made a soft growl of frustration right as she bowed her head. "It was already pretty mangled before now. Don't feel bad."
Another strike of pain hit her temple right along with that stab of guilt she freely chose to feel.
He squeezed his eyes shut as she held the limb in her hands, and the back of his head hit the trunk of the tree with a dull thud. "What about you? How are you?"
One green eye opened, the other squinting in pain, and he was met with a wide-eyed stare of disbelief.
A broken arm, cracked ribs, and various other serious injuries versus a few cuts and bruises. Of course Sam would ask if she was okay. It only made sense and no sense at all.
Sam was rambling now: he pointed out all the little scrapes on her and every observation was punctuated with a hiss of pain. He always rambled when he panicked or needed to take his mind off something.
She usually enjoyed it when he talked. Loved it even.
The two of them once spent an entire afternoon together where they talked about nothing and everything. She could listen to him inform her about the intricate differences between swords made from dragon scales and griffon bone for hours and hours.
But right now she had a pounding headache and all the words to a very complicated spell were scattered throughout her brain, refusing to string themselves together into the correct arrangement.
The pain she felt made her sound more irritated than she actually was, but his voice went silent and she stopped herself from laughing at the way his mouth hung open, his lips distractingly pink despite the blood coating them.
"I need you to stop talking." His body tensed up and he was back to squeezing his eyes shut to endure the pain. Mercedes caressed his cheek and she smiled when he leaned into her touch. "And I need you to calm down."
It would be much easier to heal him if he was as relaxed as possible.
Her hand came back down to rest on his arm and looked at him, her eyes narrowed, but kind. "Just think of something else."
A short pause passed between them. Sam licked his lips, his tongue briefly sweeping over blood before he muttered, "Then I'll just think about you."
Normally, words like that would have her duck her head and cause her cheeks to warm, but not right then. Because at that moment, she was Mercedes Jones: The Healer. Not Mercedes Jones: Completely Smitten With a Reckless Farmboy Turned Knight.
Later, she would wonder how much his pain loosened his tongue.
She scrunched her nose in concentration, fighting her way through the pain in order to remember the words to the hymn she needed. The melody for it came to her mind and she began to hum it, trying to simultaneously fill the silence between the two of them and force herself to remember everything faster.
Little by little, the haze burning through her mind faded and slow, steady beat of power weaved its way through her body. Mercedes closed her eyes and began to sing, concentrating on mending the bones in Sam's arm.
Sam pressed himself against her temple and somehow, she managed to maintain the rhythm and sing without faltering. Her heartbeat sped up as his breath tickled her cheek and he moved closer to her, his chest pressing against her shoulder.
She continued singing as she set his arm down into his lap with care and placed her hands onto his chest to heal his ribs. Eyes still closed, she turned her head and her nose brushed against his cheek until it was touching his. Sam leaned forward, his forehead against hers and her voice wavered for a split second when his lips brushed against her again and again, but she pushed on, ignoring the heat gathering in her body.
Her hands cupped his face and she leaned back as he tried to get closer, the rhythm slowing down as she reached the end of the tune. Her hands dropped into her lap with the last note and the power pumping through her died down. She opened her eyes and was met with an intense green gaze.
He had been watching her the entire time.
"Y-you need to rest your arm," she said as she backed away from him in order to shrug off her shawl.
An awkward silence fell between the two of them as she placed his arm into the makeshift sling. She avoided his unrelenting stare and pulled her hands into her lap when she was done. Memories of the fight came back to her and she pulled her lips into a tight line. The two of them needed to get moving.
"Do you ever listen to yourself sing?" Her breath caught in her throat at the question, but he didn't wait for her to answer. "You always sound so amazing."
‘Mercedes the Infatuated’ had come and replaced ‘Mercedes the Healer’ as she bit her bottom lip and felt warmth spiral its way into her cheeks.
Smiling to herself, she twisted the fabric of her pants before saying, “Thank you.”
Relaxing her grip, Mercedes looked up to find Sam still staring at her with a smirk on his face.
His brightly red ears betrayed that confidence. The sight managed to make her smile grow even wider and drew a giggle from her.
“We need to find Kurt and the others,” Mercedes said as she stood up and dusted herself off.
Sam nodded before pouting at her in an exaggerated fashion. “Just when I was enjoying some free time with you.”
Mercedes rolled her eyes at him and he laughed as he pulled himself into a kneeling position. She held her hand out to him, but he shook his head and stood up on his own.
“Should we go?”
Sam held his free hand out to her and for once, without hesitating, she placed her smaller one into his.
He gave her hand a squeeze when she linked their fingers together.