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Never Leaving Your Side

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Viktor wasn’t sure how long he was asleep for. And quite frankly, he didn’t really care, for however long it was, it wasn’t nearly enough as far as he was concerned. From the leaden weight in his limbs, he was willing to guess he didn’t get any sleep at all. Or if he did, it couldn’t have been more than a couple hours.

Regardless of how exhausted he was, there was another, minor thing keeping him from falling right back asleep.

Jayce.

From the moment he opened his eyes, his partner had been resting next to him, never once moving. He supposed it was to be expected, though, after what just took place. The man didn’t even bother to change out of his bloodied and dusty clothes. He was more surprised the medics allowed Jayce to stay there like that. If he had to guess, he was willing to bet they tried and Jayce wasn’t having it. He couldn’t help the small smile at the thought of him arguing with everyone there. 

Viktor glanced down at his partner on occasion, as if looking away for too long would allow the man to disappear right from under him. It was illogical, he knew, to be so paranoid. Maybe it was the fatigue or the stress, but his sensibility just wasn’t working in his favor at the moment. He pondered, for a moment, if that was the reason for his sudden insomnia. If he went back to sleep and woke back up, would Jayce still be there?

Again, a ridiculous fear, he was well aware, and yet…

He took a deep breath, stifling his hiss as it tugged at the stitches weaved through his side. One hand folded over the freshly treated wound. Despite it being patched up, he swore he could still smell the sharp tang of blood. 

Or maybe that was Jayce. That was more likely the more he thought about it. In fact, there was even some dried in his hair. He stared at the slight matting, eyes narrowing as he remembered. Right, his head was bleeding. He couldn’t remember a whole lot of what took place, but that he was sure of. 

If he was capable of moving more than his hands and his forearms, he would have sat up to take a better look for himself. Even the attempt to raise his head ended with him falling right back down with a small whine. He closed his eyes. That was pathetic, even for him. Mouthing a swear he pried his heavy eyes back open and cut his attention down at the messy brown locks.

“J’ce,” he croaked, wincing as the name scraped over his tongue. He cleared his throat and tried again.

“Jayce.” Well, he got the whole name out that time, even if it was a lot softer than he intended. But it seemed to be just loud enough when his partner’s body stiffened next to him. Viktor fell completely silent, almost like he was waking a wild bear. 

Slowly, Jayce came to and carefully propped himself on one elbow before turning to the thinner man. He stared for a second and blinked for a couple more.

“Viktor?” he muttered, narrowing his eyes. “Y-You’re awake.”

“It … would seem so.” His voice was still a bit rough, but it was understandable. “I thi-” Viktor’s eyes screwed shut as something jolted through his chest, something seized his lungs with his next breath. His words were stolen away by a fit of coughs. Trembling fingers curled over the sheets blanketing his wound. Each cough was like a knife jamming right through the stitches.

He was vaguely aware of Jayce’s voice, but not quite what he was saying. The tone, however, was clear as day - panic. He wanted to assure the man it was fine and he was overreacting, but he couldn’t catch his breath long enough to do so.

In a matter of seconds, Jayce had sat up, shifted and pulled Viktor against him to keep him upright as well. After a few seconds in that new position, the fit began to subside, leaving him wheezing and shaking in Jayce’s arms. If not for his desperation to draw breath, he might have been a tad embarrassed. At least there was no one to bear witness to such a humiliating scene. Then again, he wasn’t sure much else could be worse than being found passed out on the floor of their lab.

“Are you alright?” Viktor asked the moment his composure returned to him.

Jayce stared down and blinked as the question took its time processing. Then he raised an eyebrow. “I think that’s my line.”

Viktor waved a hand, but it more or less flopped back down over his side. “You’re head,” he replied simply. 

Jayce’s free hand raised to prod the slightly throbbing bruise just at his hairline. “Oh, this?” It was obvious, even to Viktor’s barely functioning gaze, that he tried not to wince at the touch. “It’s nothing, really. Besides, not the first time I’ve taken a blow to the head.” He tried to brush it off with a small laugh, but Viktor’s straight face showed no appreciation at the attempt at humor. If anything he just looked more annoyed.

“Jayce,” he tried to say with even a shred of authority. Key word being tried . It was merely a rasp that had him swallowing down another fit of coughs. 

“Viktor, I’m fine. I promise.” He nodded once and began to ease Viktor back against the pillow. “If I wasn’t, don’t you think they would have dragged me out of here to tend to me. No matter how stubborn I am, I’m pretty sure the medics can be more stubborn.” Once his partner was lying back down, Jayce slipped off the bed and back into his chair, leaning with his elbows on his knees. “Now it’s my turn.” Just like that, all jest slipped from his features. “How are you feeling?”

Viktor just turned to stare up at the ceiling as he peeled his hand away from his side to rest back atop the bed. He knew he couldn’t lie, at least not to Jayce, not anymore. “As one would expect,” he replied with a half shrug. He was sure, and knew Jayce as sure as well, that his ailment was not helping matters any. His body barely had the strength for everyday life and now it was expected to deal with healing itself on top of it all. He didn’t want to say anything, even if they were both likely thinking the same thing, but deep down he wondered if his body would even be capable of fully recovering itself. 

“You’ll get through this.” 

Viktor’s eyes snapped back over to his partner. 

“I’m relieved,” he sighed, “that at least one of us can be so optimistic.” He raised a bony hand as he spoke, clenching his fist to try and steady the tremble. He closed his eyes and lowered it back down. He felt sick just looking at how weak he’d become. And he had a feeling, this frailness that was gradually taking him over had little to do with his wounds. 

He cleared his throat again, unable to hide his flinch.

“I’ll go get some water,” Jayce offered, already on his feet before Vitkor could reply. Viktor took his time alone to calm his breaths as well as his panicking mind. His insecurities weren’t doing either of them any favors. It was enough for him to worry about it, but the last thing he wanted was to pass that fear onto Jayce. The man had enough on his mind without him adding to it. 

Even if it was nothing more than appearances, he would be fine. 

Slowly, carefully, he exhaled and opened his eyes back just as Jayce returned with a glass. Viktor nodded his thanks as he took it in both hands. He stared into it for a moment as the water swished around with his shaking. Tightening his grip, he tilted it just enough to take a small sip and handed it back over before he could spill it all over himself.

Jayce clearly wasn’t satisfied with such a small amount, but he said nothing as he set the glass aside on the table. 

“Do you think you’ll be able to eat anything?” Jayce knew it was a stretch, especially after such a small drink, but he had to at least give it a shot. Not surprisingly, Viktor shook his head without a word, sinking deeper into his sheets. He wasn’t even awake for half an hour and already, his energy was waning. 

Viktor never quite dozed completely off, though. Every minute or so, he would wake up long enough to cut his eyes back over to Jayce, and as soon as he made sure he was still there, he would close his eyes again for another minute. 

It didn’t take any longer than five minutes for Jayce to catch on.

“I told you already, didn’t I, Viktor? I’m not going anywhere.” He reached over and placed his hand over his partner’s. Despite the chill and shivers, he wrapped his fingers around tightly. “I’ll be right here.” 

Deep down, Viktor knew it wasn’t fair to Jayce. This isn’t where he should be. He had other priorities, he had a job to do. He didn’t have the time nor the luxury to stay for him. Vitkor drew in a shuddering breath and unsteadily blew it back out.

“No,” he sighed, pulling his hand away. “You shouldn’t be’ere.” He blinked, struggling to keep his eyes open as he spoke. “We … we were jus’attacked. A-All of’s.” He gave up the fight and allowed his eyes to slip shut. “Y’should b’thinkin’ ‘bout how t’handle this. Not … sittin’ere … for me.”

Jayce froze for a moment as he grabbed Viktor’s hand back. This time, his partner didn’t pull it back away, in fact, he didn’t even seem aware of the touch. Jayce pressed his lips together as Viktor’s breathing evened out. He had more he wanted to say. More he had to say. 

Viktor wasn’t the one he was really there for, and he was going to make sure he understood that.