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moment of impact

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When Tom opens his eyes, he’s treated to the blurry sight of a tiled ceiling. After blinking the world back into focus, he turns his head and freezes when he sees a boy sitting in the chair beside his bed. Normally, he wouldn’t complain at waking to such a pretty sight, but the impersonal room and the incessant beeping of nearby machinery get in the way of any satisfaction he might feel.

“Who’re you?” Tom slurs, frustrated by his own lack of diction.

“Oh!” The boy beside him startles, looking up from his mobile. “You’re awake!”

He leans over, reaching for something at just above Tom’s head, and Tom takes a shameless sniff, almost sighing in pleasure when he feels the boy’s hand brush his hair as he leans back again.

“The nurse will be here soon. You’ve been out for a couple hours, but nothing seems to be permanently wrong with you, so that’s good.”

Tom just blinks at him, languishing in his sluggish thoughts. As the door opens to admit a woman dressed in brightly colored scrubs, the boy begins to speak again.

“My name’s Harry, to answer your question.”

“‘M Tom.”

Harry smiles, looking almost flustered. “I’d say it’s nice to meet you, but I’m afraid we already have. Um.” He bites his lip and taps his finger restlessly against the mobile that’s clutched in his hand. “Briefly.”

Before Tom can reply, the nurse takes over, and the boy, Harry, looks away.

Finally, the nurse leaves after assuring him that he’ll be just fine, and Tom is left to question Harry in peace. He’s finally feeling more awake, and he’s determined to use this time productively.

“How’d we meet?” he asks. The faint blush that spreads across Harry’s cheeks is rather enchanting and definitely worth the admission of ignorance.

“Well,” Harry pauses, biting his lip again. Tom wishes he would stop. It’s making it hard to concentrate. “It’s a funny story… Actually, sorry, it’s not funny at all. I— Well.”

“Go on.”

“I kind of… hit you with my car?”

Tom takes a moment to process this.

“Oh.”

“I really am sorry,” Harry says, reaching out to place a hand over Tom’s where it lies on the hospital bed. Tom can't manage to tear his gaze away from where their hands are touching. “You see, you came out of nowhere and it was rather dark out. Not that I’m excusing it of course, or blaming you, it’s just… I swear, I’m normally a very good driver.”

When Harry moves to take his hand away, Tom grabs hold, determined to keep contact. If he wants to hold this boy’s hand, he will. It honestly feels like the least Harry could do, considering.

“Okay,” he says.

“Wait, what? Okay? You’re not mad?”

Tom hums in response.

Is he? Not really. He probably should be, and he’s certain annoyance will work itself in when the painkillers he’s on start to wear off, but for now he’s far too focused on how the green of Harry’s eyes almost shines under the fluorescent lighting.

“You’re very pretty.”

Harry blushes again. It’s not helping.

“Thanks.” He squeezes Tom’s hand. “I’m sure you are too, under all those bruises.”

Tom sighs happily.

Then, something occurs to him. “Why’re you here?”

“Oh, well. The staff tried contacting someone to come stay with you and fill out some paperwork, but no one was available.”

Harry looks uncomfortable at acknowledging Tom’s lack of support, but Tom can’t say he’s surprised. None of the people he surrounds himself with are nurturing types, and he doubts anyone would want to risk his ire by witnessing him in a weakened state. Abraxas would normally be an exception to this rule, but as he’s out of the country, Tom is willing to be understanding.

And anyway, if Abraxas had shown up, Harry might not have stayed. So. All is forgiven.

“You didn’t have to stay,” Tom says. He doesn’t mean it, of course, but it’s important to not look too invested in Harry’s continued presence.

“I know,” Harry says, sounding defensive, “I just thought it would be sad, is all, having to wake up alone on top of being confused.”

So Harry felt pity for him. How… awful.

As if sensing the shift in Tom’s mood, Harry leans forward, squeezing Tom’s hand once more. “Oh, don’t look so cross. I really did want to make sure you’re alright. And anyway, it’s not like it was a hardship to sit here and watch you sleep.”

At that, Tom can’t help but grin.

“Is that so?” He leers at Harry as best he can. “Is watching people sleep something you enjoy, then?”

“Only on special occasions,” Harry says with a huff, tugging lightly at the hand Tom has yet to release, but not with enough force to pull out of his hold. “And only when they’re very handsome.”

“You think I’m handsome?” Tom asks. Harry answers him with a flat look, and Tom feels an unusual urge to giggle building in his chest. He smothers it ruthlessly. “Well, Harry, I’m touched.”

“You certainly are,” Harry says dryly. “You also drool in your sleep, did you know that?”

He can’t help the outraged noise he makes, but he grudgingly settles back down when he’s rewarded with the sound of Harry’s laughter. “You should be nicer to me,” he says, and if he’s pouting, it’s only because he’s been drugged, and he’ll stand by that until the day he dies. “I was just run over.”

“You were not! I barely bumped into you.” Tom gestures to the hospital bed he’s lying in, and Harry smiles sheepishly and says, “Okay, maybe you were a little run over.”

They sit in silence for a few moments, just looking at each other. Then, Harry sighs.

“I really do feel awful about this,” he says. “If there’s anything I can do to help you, please let me know.”

Tom feels satisfaction curl through him. Since he first woke up, he’s been planning out the various ways he could get Harry to stay in his life once he’s left the hospital, and Harry’s just handed him a perfect opportunity.

“Anything?” Tom asks, hitting Harry with the best approximation of doe eyes he can manage.

“Anything.”

“Well, there is one thing.” He bites his lip and looks away. It takes every ounce of self control he has not to glance back to make sure Harry is playing along.

“Yes?” Harry prompts. Tom can hear the smile in his voice.

“Would you go on a date with me?”

When he finally looks back to check Harry’s reaction, the other boy is watching him with a smirk. “A date? Are you sure?” he asks. “You barely know me.”

“Yes, well, getting to know someone is generally what dates are for, aren’t they?”

“I suppose.” He doesn’t say anything else.

Tom waits.

“Well?” he finally snaps, his practiced charm worn away by impatience. “Are you going to answer my question.”

“Yes,” Harry says, and Tom breathes out a gusty sigh.

“Yes you’ll go on a date with me or yes you’re going to answer?”

“Both, I think.”

“You’re awful,” Tom tells the other boy, making sure to aim a particularly frosty glare his way.

“And you’re a shameless manipulator,” Harry says, smiling, “But here we are.”

At that, Tom can’t do anything but smile back.