Kent buried his face against the scratch of the hospital pillow, feeling the warmth of his tears soak quickly into the material even as he tried to hold them back. His voice hitched on a sob and he bit at his bottom lip, trying to stifle the sound, but it was no use. The pain and the fear of the attack were catching up with him now that the adrenaline and the initial shot of painkillers were beginning to wear off and he hurt.
He’d been stitched and bandaged and put onto a bed with nothing between him and the world but a hospital issued gown and a light sheet draped over his bottom half to allow him the pretence of modesty.
There’d be scars, they’d said, and he’d have trouble moving around comfortably for a while yet, but overall the wounds he’d sustained were pretty superficial on a whole and he was really rather lucky.
The thought of his attack being seen as something lucky and superficial wasn’t comforting to him in the least. If it had been said to make him feel better about his situation, it had succeeded only in making him feel worse. He’d been roughed up some after the knifing- bruised ribs and a likely concussion- and as far as he was concerned that was pretty superficial compared to having his… to being…
Kent bit back another cry, pressing his face further into the pillow, till every breath was a struggle, willing himself to calm down and stop this pathetic wallowing before the nurses came back around. It was late enough in the evening, at least, that even in his distress he was relatively sure that his fellow DC’s wouldn’t be popping in for anymore visits. The humiliation of having been slashed was enough, he didn’t want them to see him crying over it as well.
He almost wished they’d just stabbed him, cut him somewhere else, anywhere else. At least then he’d be able to come away from this without his cheeks flaming with shame every time someone came in to see him; their gazes skimming over his body as if his lying prone on his stomach would stop him from feeling the rake of their eyes as they stared at his arse through the hospital sheet. Staring as if they could see through the flimsy material to the ugly slashes of flesh that lay beneath. No one said it, but he knew; knew they were ugly, that they would always be ugly tears of puckered flesh even once healed, that he could never show them to anyone intimate without reliving this humiliation.
He shifted, body instinctively trying to curl up into as small a position as possible. Red hot spikes of pain shot their way across his lower half, spreading like fire up his back as he pulled at the stitches and he moaned his pain into his pillow, his fingers clenching at the material tight enough to rip through the pillowcase.
“Kent?” DI Chandler’s voice came suddenly and Kent froze, body tensing as he heard the light tread of the DI’s footsteps as he made his way hurriedly into the room.
“Kent?” the call of his name came again, closer, and he knew without looking that Chandler was beside his bed. He felt himself begin to tremble and pressed his face as hard as he was able against the pillow.
This couldn’t be happening. Not this. To have Chandler see him like this, broken and weak, and crying… he couldn’t…
“It’s okay, Kent,” Chandler said, voice softer. Kent shook his head. It wasn’t. It was never going to be okay again.
“Kent,” this time his name came as a murmur, gentle and soothing and accompanied by the hesitant touch of fingers to the back of his neck. Kent flinched at the touch but Chandler didn’t pull away, choosing instead to stroke his fingers against his nape. The touch, though unexpected and initially unwanted, ended up calming him and some time later Kent felt his tears drying against his cheeks, his sobs turning to hiccups.
Even when it became clear that he was no longer crying, Chandler kept his hand against his neck, a lingering sort of comfort… and a reminder that he was still there and that Kent was going to have to face him sooner rather than later. Chandler’s fingers tightened fractionally, as if in agreement and Kent found himself sucking in a shuddering breath before turning his head slowly to the side, his gaze downcast even when the bright lining of Chandler’s coat caught his eye.
Chandler moved his hand with the turn, his fingers trailing from his neck to the wetness of his cheek and Kent couldn’t help but flick his eyes up at the touch. Chandler was looking at him, his stare open and without judgement. He didn’t say anything when Kent looked at him though, just continued to run his fingers lightly across his cheek.
Kent swallowed heavily, his hands gradually releasing their vice-like grip upon his pillow as the minutes dragged out. Finally, sure he had his emotions under enough control to speak, he reached up and caught Chandler’s fingers, pulling them away from his face but not-quite letting go of them even as he did so.
“I’m okay, sir.” He said, his voice hoarse. He dropped his eyes from Chandler’s to land upon their hands. Chandler didn’t pull away. Kent thought he should probably let go but… Chandler’s fingers tightened against his and it was easy enough then to tell himself then that he couldn’t.
“I know you are, Emerson.” Chandler said, offering him a rare smile. Kent returned it with a somewhat watery one of his own, his eyes flickering closed at the sound of Chandler using his given name.
“Try to get some sleep,” he said then, his other hand coming up to brush Kent’s hair from his forehead. “I’ll be here when you wake up,” he promised and Kent found himself overwhelmingly grateful for receiving something he’d never have found it in himself to ask for.
“Thank you, sir,” he breathed, body already relaxing itself into a sleep borne of exhaustion.
“You’re welcome,” Chandler whispered a second before Kent felt the press of his lips against his temple. He still hurt, was still filled with shame and humiliation, but none of that seemed to matter right now. Everything else he could deal with in the morning, but this… this was okay for now, he thought, the slightest of smiles turning his lips as sleep finally overcame him.