“Oh, you’re finally awake,” Cale says, glancing up from his phone when he hears a small groan from the hospital bed in front of him. Make them stop fighting, he taps out quickly into the messaging app, following up with a, I’ll buy more pie later if they do.
Ok, On messages back, and a few seconds later, she sends a selfie of her grinning, Hong and Raon in the background posing with an empty pie container.
Cale wonders where the kids got their apple pie addiction from.
“How’re you feeling?” he asks, placing his phone face down on his lap and watching carefully as Alberu blearily blinks up at the ceiling and then at him.
“Alberu?” he prods, scooching his chair a little closer to the bed when Alberu doesn’t answer. “Are you o—”
“Am I dying?” Alberu says abruptly, his voice slightly raspy.
Cale frowns, confused. “No,” he says slowly, “your appendix was removed, so you don’t have appendicitis anymore.”
“Are you sure?” Alberu asks, squinting at him suspiciously. Cale helps him as he sits up.
“Yes,” Cale replies, trying to not be worried. He fails. “Do you feel like you’re dying? Should I call the doctor?”
Alberu grabs Cale's hand from where it’s reaching towards the nurse call button. Cale stops moving in favor of staring at him, his confusion growing ever larger.
“If I’m not dying,” Alberu says seriously, “then why is there an angel in front of me?”
Oh my god, he’s hallucinating, Cale thinks faintly. He doesn’t think that the dosage of morphine that Alberu’s on is supposed to make him hallucinate.
He barely registers the vibration of his phone, signaling a new message. On, probably, updating him on whatever chaos the children have decided to sow. He ignores it in favor of the more immediate problem at hand.
“I think we should call the doctor,” Cale says, trying to make his voice as soothing as he can. He’s not quite sure he gets there. “You might be on too much morphine, if you’re hallucinating.”
“I’m not,” Alberu insists, still holding onto Cale’s hand and staring earnestly into his eyes. “There’s an angel right in front of me.”
He lowers his head and presses his lips to the back of Cale’s hand, still holding steady eye contact. Cale’s mind blanks.
“May I ask for your name, angel?” Alberu asks, so sincerely that Cale almost shivers. He should be used to this by now after years of exposure, he thinks, but it still catches him so off-guard when Alberu says anything romantic. He’s not used to this much open affection.
Alberu’s winning smile slowly turns into a frown. “Angel?”
“First of all,” Cale says when he manages to find his voice again, “don’t call me angel.”
His voice is blessedly steady. Thank god for small mercies.
“Then what shall I call you?” Alberu says, his smile returning in full force.
“Cale,” Cale replies, carefully flipping his phone over and typing out a message to Ron. Does morphine induce memory loss, he sends. A few seconds later, Ron replies with, temporarily, along with general confusion.
Okay. So this is fairly normal, hopefully.
“Cale,” Alberu repeats, entranced, and Cale just barely manages to wrestle down a blush at the way he makes it sound like so much more than a single syllable pronounced the same way as the vegetable.
“May I take you out for dinner on Friday?” Alberu asks.
And, well—it has been a while since they’ve gone out, just the two of them, and Cale’s reasonably sure that the children will be okay in the care of Ron and Beacrox. Hopefully. It’s just for a few hours, they’ll probably be fine.
His phone vibrates three times in succession. He glances down to see texts from On, in all caps. He’s not sure he wants to know what’s happening.
Yup, they’ll totally be fine for a few hours.
“Of course,” Cale accepts, and this time he doesn’t quite manage to stop his face from flushing slightly at the delighted smile that crosses Alberu’s face. “Is seven okay?”
“Wonderful,” Alberu says, still smiling, like Cale’s just given him the world.
Cale’s not sure how much more of this he can take before he has to physically leave the room.
Make a reservation for two at the usual place, Cale texts, hoping that looking at his phone instead of Alberu will help him gain some semblance of self-control. The way that Alberu’s thumb is absentmindedly caressing his hand isn’t helping. 7:00.
He waits until Ron replies with a confirmation to look up again.
“Okay,” he says.
“Okay,” Alberu replies, still smiling widely. “May I ask for your phone number, so I can talk with you later?”
Cale rolls his eyes. “No,” he says. “That would be unnecessary.”
Alberu looks at him, crestfallen. “Oh,” he says, so sadly it’s like he’s five and Cale’s just told him that Santa isn’t real. Cale almost can’t stop the laugh that bubbles up from his throat.
“You already have it, dumbass,” Cale says, watching as confusion rises in Alberu’s face. He slips his hand out of Alberu’s grip and presses the nurse call button. Even if there doesn’t seem to be any major problems, the doctor should probably know that the patient is awake. Cale should’ve done that earlier, actually.
“What?” Alberu asks.
Cale sighs and lifts his left hand, flashing the silver band on his ring finger. “We’re married,” he says flatly.
Alberu’s eyes widen. “What,” he says again, this time quieter and more disbelieving.
“We’ve been married for at least a year,” Cale says.
“Me and you?” Alberu says, staring at the ring.
“You married me?”
“Against my better judgement, yes.”
“Oh my god,” Alberu says, turning his blank stare towards the ceiling. “How did I manage that?”
Cale doesn’t try to stop his laughter this time.
“I get to hear your laugh everyday?” Alberu asks seriously, turning his gaze back to Cale. “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Cale snorts and stands from his chair when he hears a knock, opening the door to let the doctor in.
“You’ll be taking those words back when you’re back home and dealing with the kids,” he says.
“We have kids?”
“I’ll be back later,” Cale says over his shoulder, leaving the room so the doctor and nurses can do what they need to. “Hopefully you’ll be more lucid by then.”
“Did you know that’s my husband?” he hears Alberu say to the doctor, and then, “oh my god, we have kids.”
The doctor laughs.