With a deep growl, Carmilla gave the coffee machine her best death glare, sending her heavy black boot into it's base with a huff. The mint green machine, that was easily older than her, simply stared back, mockingly, refusing her the caffeine she so desperately required.
Heaving a deep sigh she turned away and shuffled on towards the room she’d, unfortunately, become intimately familiar with over the last week. She’d been forced out a little over two hours ago by a determined Perry who insisted she go outside to get some fresh air and head home for a much-needed shower. She’d rushed through it of course, desperate to get back as quickly as possible, despite the fact that the shower felt amazing and the fresh air was a much-needed break from the overly sterile air that clung to every inch of the hospital. But two hours away seemed like far too long, and she’d rushed back only to realize how truly exhausted she really was. She hadn’t had more than a few hours sleep in days, afraid that if she closed her eyes, she’d miss something.
She’d been three hundred miles away, in the middle of a photo shoot with the most insufferable model she’d had the displeasure of working with when it had happened. She’d gotten the call from LaFontaine, and at first, she was confused. LaF was all over the place, talking over themself a mile a minute without really saying anything that made sense. Something about bees and brownies and possible organ transplants. It wasn’t until Perry finally took the phone from them that she found out the real reason behind the call; Laura had been in a terrible car accident and was in critical condition at St. Peter’s hospital, just twenty minutes away from the modest condo they shared near downtown Silas.
She’d immediately grabbed her things and recklessly broke every speed limit and traffic law on her way back home, repeatedly redlining the Honda CB1000R that Laura had initially begged her to get rid of, but secretly loved riding on the back of, especially during those crisp fall days when the breeze would hit them just right with the scents of autumn leaves and pine. The whole ride she’d been completely terrified of what awaited her at the hospital, or worse… that with the ‘critical’ describing Laura’s condition, she wouldn’t get there in time. It was awful.
This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. Things were supposed to be good. She was supposed to come home two days later after finishing the shoot and walk into their house, Laura there, smiling and jumping into her arms as soon as the door closed, thrilled that their dreaded seven-day work separation was finally over. They’d planned to have dinner together that night and celebrate Laura’s latest political bashing article being printed in the Times. They would’ve ordered a fancy wine and made heart eyes at each other over the table while playing with each other fingers underneath it.
Instead, she was racing towards uncertainty, hoping against hope that what would greet her would be better than the worst-case scenario. When she’d arrived at the hospital a little after eight that night, LaF and Perry were there in the waiting room, both squirming in their chairs, apparently waiting for her.
“What the hell happened?!? Is she okay? Where is she?”
“They’re moving her to a room right now. She’s been in surgery,” LaFontaine explained, nervously wringing their hands in front of themselves. “There were some… complications and some internal bleeding. They’ve stopped it, but the doctor said the next few hours will be critical.”
Carmilla just stared at the two, digging her nails into her palms to keep the tears threatening to spill from her eyes at bay.
“Carmilla, she’s going to get through this,” Perry said, with as much conviction as she could muster. She tentatively reached out, placing a comforting hand on Carmilla’s leather-clad shoulder. “Laura is a fighter. You know this. She’s not just going to give up on you and her career and the amazing life she’s worked so hard for.”
Carmilla just nodded, staring down at the floor, terrified of what would happen if Perry was wrong. Terrified of the worst. Terrified of what would happen if she lost Laura.
It was thirty minutes later when the trio was finally lead to Laura’s room. If Carmilla was scared before, the sight that greeted her froze every muscle in her body. Laura lay in the hospital bed, bruised and broken. She had a set of stitches across her forehead that matched the set along the right side of her jawline, cuts and scratches littering her face and arms, tubes and lines hooked up to all sorts of machines that beeped and buzzed around her. The nurse had warned them that the sight may be shocking, but Carmilla was not prepared for this. Laura was the strong one, the one that could carry the world on her shoulders. But laying there in that hospital bed, she looked so small and fragile.
It had been eight days since that night. Eight days and Laura still hadn't woken up. Eight days of the doctors performing test after test, attempting to get any sort of response from the tiny journalist without success. Eight days of Carmilla never leaving Laura’s side for more than five minutes, spending her days begging Laura to wake up and her nights huddled in an uncomfortable chair to the right of Laura's bed, holding her hand, and staring at the sleeping girl that had stolen her heart all those years ago. Today was the first time she'd left the room at all, having taken advantage of LaF, Perry, and even Sherman, who had arrived the morning after the accident, to bring her whatever she needed as she waited for Laura to come around. They'd all suggested that she take some time away, but it wasn't until she was forced out by a persistent Perry that she actually left. Now that she was back, the guilt she felt from leaving in the first place was beginning to overwhelm her. What if something had happened while she was gone? What if she missed something? Rubbing her hands over her face with a sigh, she rounded the corner towards Laura’s room and was immediately met with an anxious Perry and overly exuberant LaFontaine.
“There you are! We’ve been calling you for the past hour, why didn’t you answer your phone? You and Sherman have both been totally MIA and it's really not okay!” The eager tone of LaFontaine’s voice caught her off guard.
“What’s going on?” Carmilla asked, glancing down at her very dead iPhone and realizing for the first time that she hadn't used it since she last talked to Mattie a few days ago. “Did something happen? Is she-”
“Awake! She’s awake!”
“Are you serious?”
She didn’t even bother waiting for an answer as she barreled past the two gingers and into the beige hospital room, her eyes immediately meeting those of the woman she loved. She was awake. She was okay. Hearing LaFontaine and Perry rush in behind her, she let out the deep breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding, and felt her lips turn up in the biggest smile she’d had in weeks.
“Hey, cupcake, about time you woke up. I’ve missed those gorgeous brown eyes,” she said, slowly walking towards the bed and taking Laura’s free hand, smiling down at the prone girl. It was taking everything she had to keep the tears welling in her eyes at bay, but she couldn’t break down now. Not when Laura was staring back at her expectantly. “How are you feeling?”
“Um, I don’t know. Sore. Confused. Tired.”
“I think that’s the fewest words I’ve ever heard you use,” Carmilla chuckled, tenderly brushing her thumb across a few bruised knuckles.
“Yeah… I just um… I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” Pausing, Laura looked around the room, briefly making eye contact with the two gingers at the foot of the bed.
“Don’t understand what, cutie?”
Turning her gaze back to Carmilla, she momentarily floundered as she tried to find the right words. Briefly glancing down at their joined hands only seemed to heighten her panic.
“Laura, sweetie, you were in a car accident. But everything is going to be fine,” Perry anxiously chimed in, looking for some way to be helpful.
“Yeah, I know. I remember the crash. I was on my way back from researching that article on bee pollination and you’d just called to invite me over for movies,” she said, turning to back to Perry and LaF.
“Yeah, Per was starting a batch of double chocolate brownies when you guys hung up,” LaF chimed in helpfully.
“Right, I remember I told her I desperately needed a pick me up and she offered. I just, I don’t remember…” Laura paused, once again glancing back and forth from her hand gently clasped in Carmilla’s to the dark-haired girl's anxious eyes. Carefully pulling her hand away, she closed her eyes and briefly shook her head, seemingly trying to collect herself. When she opened her eyes again she was met with a confused look from the girl next to her.
“Don’t remember what? What is it, Laura?”
“Who are you?”