I woke up to gasping.
We had gotten back to the dorm within a few minutes, Thomas happily talking about his newfound talent in piano. I couldn't stop staring at the bloody spots on Thomas' back, my eyes counting them and recounting them nervously. I bit my lips in concern, our shoulders brushing up to each other. He wasn't okay, and I knew it. But Thomas was never one for asking for help, god, I wished I could simply help.
I opened the door for Thomas as we got back to the dorm. We had this ongoing competition, who could open the door for who. What a cutie! He was the one who invented the game, but his legs moved too fast for my own short ones. I fell into a restless sleep, Thomas collapsing into his bed before I could ask him about the blood. I loved him, so damn much. I never wanted him to get hurt, and it was killing me to see him like this.
I woke up to panicked breaths, and they weren't above me. I mumbled sleepily, trying to get some sort of grasp on reality. But I spun, towards the noise, and they were next to me! I shot up in bed, my heart drumming. Was it Thomas? What if there was some sort of intruder, what was going on? I glanced down, and suddenly I saw Thomas sprawled out on the floor. He had a hand over his mouth, the other over his torso. He groaned, and he tried to move up but fell quickly back onto the floor as I sprung out of bed.
"Thomas!" I exclaimed, my adrenaline rushing in my veins as I got down next to him. I didn't know where to put my hands! I needed to get help, I needed something! I could only see him through the faint light leaking from under the door, I flipped on a lamp to see the love of my life looking as if he were in so much pain. "Thomas, are you okay?"
He groaned, his hands shaking as he reached up for me. "H-Help me up, please. Just fell."
"Thomas, we need to get you to the doctors, right now!" I helped him up, panic thundering through my veins. The fall from his bunk wasn't enough to make him feel this bad, oh god, he wasn't alright. He leaned against the wall of our dorm, but then let out a loud yelp as his back collided with the frame. I put an arm around him, a weakly protesting Thomas melting into me as I helped him into the hallway. "Thomas, please, what's hurting?"
"S-Shit," he gasped, as he tried to regain his balance as we moved down the corridor. "My chest, m-my lungs hurt bad. Hurts when I breathe. James, I'm okay, I-I just need to lie d-down."
"I know, I know," I soothed, helping him into the elevator. He wasn't in any condition to take the stairs, damn it Thomas, I wasn’t about to lose you! It was probably nothing fatal, but damn it, I was so worried. "How long has this been going on?"
"Since I..." his words trailed off, lips pressed together in a grim line. "When I g-got back. God, it hurts an l-lot. And m-my back hurts too." It must have been the bleeding Aaron was telling me about, god, I needed to get him to a hospital! "Don't k-know why. Fuck-!"
He gasped, arching his back as he stumbled into a wall. "Thomas, shh, I know. We're going to get to the lobby, and then you can sit down. You can make it."
He groaned painfully as he nodded, squeezing his eyes shut as I slipped an arm around his warm shoulders. The elevator doors finally opened, Thomas swearing under his breath every time we took a step. His breaths were ragged and unsteady, and I carefully set him on a nearby couch. He whimpered, leaning into the cushions. He looked so helpless, so vulnerable, I hadn't seen this before, ever. I had seen a small version of this when he returned back to the dorm a few days ago, but this was so much more.
I sat with him, gently smoothing his hair back as his breathing steadied. I called the local hospital, there was no fee to send an ambulance with how close they were. I would've brought Thomas to the hospital myself, but he could hardly walk without falling. I glanced at his handsome but exhausted features, his eyes were closed but each breath he let out looked like a strain on his chest. And then I realized it. I hadn't let go of his hand, and I didn't want to honestly.
We sat there hand in hand as I murmured small comforts, whispering out a story from my childhood where I fell from a tree twice in a week. Broke my arm, but I was determined to climb higher, and then I fell again. Thomas snorted, swatting at me weakly, before sighing loudly. He squeezed my hand once, sending a shock to my heart. He knew we were holding hands, and he wasn't pulling away. He was probably feeling so bad he couldn't figure out reality, but still, it was nice to have a comfortable warmth in my hand.
"Sorry 'bout all of this. I k-kinda suck, don't I?" He chuckled, his usual smirk set nicely on his face, but I shook my head viciously. "But seriously, sorry for wakin' you up. A-And you weren't coughing too, I'm glad to see that J-Jems."
"Don't worry!" I said softly, watching as an ambulance pulled up in front of the building. Thomas grunted, taking a deep breath as he stood up. I put an arm around his waist to support him, carefully moving him towards the entrance. "I just want you to be okay, I gotta keep my... Best friend feeling good."
He let out a sharp laugh, his eyes surprisingly happy. "That's my line! You're great Jems. Even if you are short, y-you're still great."
"You sound like one of my siblings who forgot my Christmas present," I laughed, my hand settled on the small of his back. A nurse rushed up, pulling him out of my grasp and towards the stretcher, but he waved her off.
"Nah," he said to her, his free hand settled on his torso, other intertwined with my own. "I'm not that hurt, I can s-sit."
He winced sharply as he got up and into the back of the ambulance, letting out a pained shout, a nurse exchanging a concerned glance with me. "Thomas," I said softly, sitting down on the small bench as he sat on the stretcher, chest heaving. "How 'bout you lay down?"
"You might feel better!" A nurse exclaimed, and I squinted at her. She seemed... Familiar. Her dark hair looked incredibly long, even though it was pinned neatly back, matching her equally dark eyes. "My name is Eliza, and we're going to bring you to the hospital, alright Mr. Jefferson?"
He grunted as a nod, gasping in pain as I helped him lie down on the stretcher. My hands lingered on his waist, warmth literally anywhere I touched him. Did he ever feel the same way? Nope, impossible. But if he didn't feel the same way, I'd die. Or I would have to forget him. I desperately didn't want to do either, what would happen if I was gone? Would Thomas miss me? But he would never even know how I felt about him, he would never understand. Tears brimmed traitorously at my eyes. I always waited for late at night to have these thoughts, but damn it. I didn't want to cry in front of Thomas.
I could feel petals in my lungs, and I bit back a violent cough. The flowers, even when I was with Thomas, were getting worse. I took my medicine every day, and it helped, but it didn't stop the inevitable. Reynolds' words echoed in my mind, freak. I pulled an arm around myself, wiping away a stray tear. It was so easy for me to get worked up like this, damn it, I needed to be normal to for once in my life. I was such a crybaby. I just wanted to stay with Thomas, was that selfish? Was he sick? Or hurt? What if this was lung failure, and there wasn't any hope? No, I pushed the panicking thoughts out of my head. Thomas was going to be okay. Right?
"Jems?" Thomas mumbled hoarsely, reaching out to tap my knee. The ambulance rumbled to life, my heart rattling sadly in my chest. His own rose and fell, and I could see how much pain he was in, even with the tears shining in my vision, but of course, he was smiling. "What's wrong? Y-You okay?"
I sniffed, trying to force out a laugh. "I should be asking you that. You're the one on a stretcher."
"Don't ignore the question," Thomas grinned, poking at my knee, his own way of comfort when he seemed to be dying. "Come on, Jems. You a-alright? Just 'cause I'm in a stretcher don't mean that I can't tell when you ain't feelin' good Jems."
I palmed at my eyes, looking down at my feet. "Don't know," I mumbled pathetically as if I didn't have a reason to be crying my eyes out. "I'm just tired."
He frowned, rolling half out of the stretcher, while ignoring the nurse telling him to stay still, and patted at my cheek. "E-Er, here, I was trying to get rid of those tears of yours! Don't cry Jems, were those maybe a few tears for your long lost best bro?" He grinned, my face burning hotly at his touch. Damn. I loved this man so much. "But seriously, don't cry Jemmy, I have decided you will never be sad again. It's the Thomas law."
"It's the law?" I chuckled softly, and I could feel the ambulance slow under our feet. The hospital wasn't too far away, and I was so damn glad about that. "W-Well, my law is that you're not allowed to be feeling bad like this. Or I'll... Do something."
He laughed deeply, but he flinched as his chest heaved. The nurse gently coaxed him to lie down even though he shot her his signature glare. Thomas had never been a fan of being told what to do, even by the teachers. They slowly moved the stretcher off of the truck, and I followed along closely as Thomas swore every time they hit a bump. My foggy brain was moving too fast, then too slow. Suddenly I was surrounded by white walls, a protesting Thomas being quickly ushered down a corridor.
The nurse- Eliza- gently backed him into a room, and I saw Thomas wave at me with a pained smirk. My heart twinged, what an amazing dork. Even at three in the morning! I just wanted to see Thomas, make sure he was okay, he was in so much pain and I knew it. I never wanted him having sort of those feelings, it was the worst.
An older doctor came out at one point, asking how I knew 'Mr. Jefferson.' Fuck, oh god, I said without even thinking, that I was his boyfriend. I wasn't his boyfriend, no matter how much I wished for it! Damn it! I doubted it meant anything, probably just contact information. Even so, what if Thomas found out about that? My face burned, embarrassed, and I anxiously tapped at my thigh. I had to explain this to Thomas, please, Thomas be alright.
I coughed once, a stray bleeding heart and half of a lily falling into my palm before I shoved them into my coat pocket. Even after everything, I would do this forever if it meant more time with Thomas, and that was that. I let out a sharp breath, trying to push the embarrassing conversation with the older doctor out of my head. I closed my eyes for a moment, wishing Thomas was next to me.
A gentle voice rang out into my ears as I opened my eyes suddenly. I must have dozed off, but it couldn't have been for long, the clock's hands had hardly moved. The same nurse from earlier poked her head out of the room, a small smile on her face. Thank gosh it wasn't the other doctor I had spoken to earlier- I still couldn't believe I had said those things.
"How-How is he?" I said, a tad hysterical, standing up and regaining my balance.
"He's asleep," she responded softly, opening the door to his room a little more. "But you can come in with him, I believe the chairs here are more comfortable than the plastic ones."
We chuckled in unison as I finally connected the dots. "Wait! You're Eliza, we saw each other not too long ago." She laughed and shook my hand nicely. She was the middle of the three sisters, that's right! God, it took me long enough. "Sorry, I'm just kind of... Frazzled tonight. Is Thomas going to be okay?"
She frowned but nodded nonetheless. "Three broken ribs. Two of them seemed to be cracked up until just a few hours ago, you said that he fell out of bed?" I nodded, my heart thundering in my chest. Broken ribs? And what had cracked them in the first place, oh god, was that where he was held up a few days ago? When he said that he was originally visiting his family, was it something else? "The third rib had already been broken, but thankfully he didn't seem to land on that one too hard. He may need a cane for a week or so, to keep the pressure off his left side."
"I..." I couldn't even speak. Three broken ribs, one had already been broken before tonight. Holy shit, Thomas was hurt. What if one of the bones hit his lung? I was so relieved that they had caught it before anything else happened, but how had they gotten cracked and broken in the first place? "I understand. C-Can I see him?"
"Of course!" She smiled kindly, opening the door for me. "I'll be outside, please click the button on his monitor if anything is going on. I'm currently an intern here, and I just happened to get the night schedule."
She sighed, and I shot her a smile. "Thanks, Eliza. Really... Really good work tonight. Thank you."
She nodded, letting me walk into the room and then closing the door politely behind me. She was so damn nice, how were people in good moods at almost three in the morning? The room was dark, and it took my eyes a moment to get adjusted.
My gaze settled finally on the sleeping figure in the bed, hooked up to multiple machines. I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding. I pulled up a chair next to him, desperate to get close to him. His features looked amazing as always, but he seemed exhausted, but he did have broken bones. His dark hair was highlighted with the moon, fallen down around him, awkwardly shaped around his pillow. With the number of things he was connected to, I was expecting for his breathing to be alright. But still, his chest was still rising and falling unsteadily, a face mask fogging up every time he let out a breath. Poor Thomas.
There was a pastel blue blanket laid neatly over his hospital gown, his arms resting next to him. I knew I shouldn't have done it, but I took his hand. I couldn't help it- he was so addictive, so warm, and I never wanted to lose that. I rested my head on my arm, eyes moving over his bruised wrist.
I leaned forward briefly and brushed my lips over the purple and blue wound.
Whatever Thomas was going through, I would be there for him.
I loved the dork, bruises and all.