Harvey was a patchwork quilt of bandages. His back, his thighs, his hand, wrist, and face. All of them bandaged tightly. Thickly. But not enough to stop the blood from seeping through every so often. They needed constant attention and care which he didn’t have the energy or ability to perform. Luckily, he had Gilda. And she had been so good. She had been sitting in the back of the courtroom when it happened, watching her husband with pride as he convicted the city’s biggest crime lord - and it was going well. Actually, it was going spectacularly. So well, in fact, that Harvey was going to win. That’s when it happened. A witness on behalf of Falcone, threw a vial full of acid onto his face. It stopped the proceedings. It stopped everything. He screamed. She had been with him for five years and she had never heard him scream like that. She could still hear it, cutting into her heart. He clutched his face, which only meant the acid burned into his hands, too. It was bad. She knew it was bad when they didn’t let her ride in the ambulance with him. Her fears grew the longer he was on the operating table, the longer she waited. Skin grafts, burns, changed skin colour and texture. The doctors didn’t pay a lot of attention to her pleas. It was lucky it didn’t reach his windpipe, they said. Lucky, she had thought, was not how she would describe what had happened. She had stayed with him in the hospital as best she could, but she had her own court cases and trials and Harvey refused to let even his own injuries stand in the way of justice. He insisted she go. She admired that about him, but she wished that he would have asked her to stay. It would have given her an excuse to avoid all the questions at work.
Now, finally, he was home from the hospital. And the pain was manageable. It was all manageable, Gilda reminded herself. They could do this. Harvey sat on the bed, looking rather adorable in his matching sailing boat pyjama set. He always wore it when he was sick or upset. He liked the way it felt against his skin. He liked that she had bought it for him.
Gilda kissed the top of his head and gently began to peel the bandages away. Her heart quickened as it had the first time they’d done this.
“It’s healing well, love,” she said, surprised to see less discharge than before.
Maybe things would be okay in time , she thought, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad . She gathered the things the hospital had given them to care for his wounds. It had become a routine very quickly.
Harvey winced as the warm water hit his burned skin. The cotton ball Gilda was using to clean his wounds felt like steel wool as it scratched his exposed nerves. He twitched under her gentle touch - it felt like his face was on fire. It felt like the acid was still eating away at his skin, melting his bones. Gilda was going as slowly as she could, but the dried blood in some places really needed to come off and it required a bit of scrubbing. The bandages were soaked with bodily fluid and blood as the wounds tried to heal. Hopefully, his face would accept some of the grafts, or at least scar over enough to give the plastic surgeons something to work with. Though there wasn’t a lot the Doctor’s could do at this stage. Cleaning and maintenance were the most important, they had told them, until then, just keep yourselves calm and prevent any infection.
She pulled another cotton ball out of the packet and dipped it in the anti-bacterial solution. It was supposed to promote healing. All she knew was that Harvey’s face looked like a war zone and that it hurt. A lot.
“I’m sorry, baby,” she murmured. She cupped his other cheek with her free hand to keep him still as she cleaned the small pocket of bone and skin around his damaged eye.
“It’s okay. Has to be done,” he murmured back.
He had a soft lisp, and some of his words sounded muffled. He only had feeling in half of his mouth - but it was returning, even if it was full of ulcers. Truthfully, he didn’t know what he had left and what the acid had taken from him. He’d looked in the mirror - once - that had been enough. Gilda could see him clenching his jaw in pain and his teeth grinding through the hole in his cheek that exposed teeth and muscle. He leaned into her touch and relished in the cool feeling as she put fresh bandages back on.
“Thank you, nurse Dent,” he said, happy to be through the worst of it.
She giggled softly and disposed of the old bandages quickly so neither of them had to look at the discharge. She sat beside him, her arms immediately slinking around his waist. He put an arm around her, too.
“How do you feel?”
“Don’t know, babe. I really don’t,” Harvey paused and drew in a breath, “He’s closer. A lot closer now.”
Gilda rubbed his back, “Maybe he’s trying to protect you from the pain. Like how he’d take over with your dad.”
“Maybe,” Harvey was unconvinced, but far too tired to contemplate it any further. “Should we get this over with?”
Gilda looked down at his hand, which was bandaged thickly, and nodded. This was the easier part. Luckily, the burns weren’t as severe, but they still warranted care. He might never have full sensitivity on his palm again, but the doctors seemed convinced he’d have near normal function of all his fingers and wrist. She peeled the bandage back, humming softly to herself. Harvey turned his head away as she began to bathe the burns.
The disinfectant ran along a crease in his palm, dripping along nerves that weren’t sure whether they were experiencing pain, pleasure, or pressure. He let out a yelp and then a growl as he pushed her away, reacting to the sharp, sudden pain that shot up his arm. Gilda squeaked as she hit the floor.
“Would you fuckin’ watch it?!” Big Bad Harv yelled.
She swallowed, “Okay. Okay, I’ll go slower. I’m sorry.”
The anger on Harvey’s face vanished, his eyes went hazy for a moment, and then he stared at her in shock. Gilda stood before he could say anything. Tears brimmed in his eyes, along with confusion. He’d never experienced such a quick shift before. It was disorientating.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. That was him. That was him, it wasn’t me,” he muttered.
She wiped his tears and hushed him, “I know. Don’t be silly, now. I know when I’m talking to my husband and when I’m not.”
“Did he hurt you?”
She shook her head, “My butt is going to be a little sore from the fall, but no, I think you guys’ hand just hurt. That’s all.”
He nodded, but was still a little dazed, “I’m sorry.”
“Stop that. Nothing to be sorry for. I love you, every part,” she brushed some of his hair with her fingers, “Now, you lay down, I’ll finish this up, and then we can both have a nice long sleep. How about that?”
He nodded and laid back onto the large nest of pillows they’d built to keep Harvey from accidentally rolling onto his injured side when he slept. He kept his eyes on Gilda and focused on her features. The way her brows furrowed in concentration, the tip of her tongue poking out the corner of her mouth. Her dark brown hair fell in front of her face and she pushed it away, tucking it behind her ear as she rebandaged his hand. She caught his gaze and blushed, blinking and looking back down at what she was doing.
“Just what are you looking at, mister?”
Harvey smiled, which tugged on the wound plaster a bit, but he decided it was worth it because it made her smile, too.
“I’m serious, what?” she blushed harder the longer he kept smiling and staring at her.
“You’re the most beautiful person we’ve ever seen,” he finally said.
Gilda wasn’t used to Harvey talking about himself and Big Bad Harv with plurals, but she supposed it was unfair to exclude him, especially if he was so close to front. It didn’t stop her from blushing and kissing his forehead. She disposed of the rest of the trash and then washed her hands. She changed into her pyjamas in front of them both. Might as well give them a little treat, after everything they’d been through.
“Hmm… sweatpants and tee or lacy nightgown… I can’t decide,” she teased.
“You think I’m that shallow, babe?”
She shrugged playfully and opted for the sweats and tee-shirt. Harvey would have whistled at her if he had more than half of his lips.
“Are you objectifying me, Dent?” she asked as she crawled into bed with him. She rested her head on his chest and slipped her hand under his pyjama shirt to rest on the bare skin there. His stay in hospital meant he hadn’t been doing his usual manscaping, but she liked his fuzzy tummy all the same.
“Wouldn’t dream of it, hotness,” he replied, cringing even as he said it.
Gilda missed this, she missed being silly together. It was good. It made her feel like things were getting back to normal. Though deep down, she knew they never could.