In Vex’s defense, there was no way to see that the ground would give beneath them. It looked exactly like what they’d been walking on for the past hour or so, her and Percy tasked with scouting ahead. And so she stepped and slipped, instinctively grasping on to the nearest thing she thought would give her leverage. Which happened to be Percy.
Their combined weight pitched them off the road, down the steep cliff. Vex felt every rock and branch on the way down, before something collided painfully with her head. Finally, thankfully, they both stopped.
“Are you all right?” She reached out in what she thought might be Percy’s direction, and felt the fabric of his coat. Something in her chest eased, knowing he was at least there with her.
“A little rattled, but nothing broken.” He appeared to be as he said. He glanced in her direction, eyes widening in alarm.
“Percy, what’s wrong?”
“You’re bleeding from the head.” It was only now that she felt stickiness trickling down the side of her face, and something about the sensation made her feel ill, like she was going to vomit.
“Are you able to move your head without pain?” She tried, and found that she could. “Good. That’s good. I need to check something.” Percy held her chin gently, pushing it up so she could see the sky. His skin was cool against her face. Why didn’t he do this more often? It felt quite nice.
“Is anything blurry or distorted?” She shook her head, not relishing the nausea that accompanied the movement.
“I don’t think I should do that,” she said, laying back against the cliff.
“Then don’t.” A very logical conclusion, which she agreed with.
“Sister? Percival? Where are you? Are you hurt?” Vax’s voice filled her ear, his worry palpable.
“Vex hit her head. I’m fine. Get Pike here as soon as you can.” A chorus of assent ensued from the other end. Good, people were coming. She was so sleepy. A nap before rescue sounded like just the thing.
“Vex, stay with me.” Percy tapped her cheek gently. “It’s not good for you to fall asleep.”
“But ‘m tired.” She was so sleepy. Why wouldn’t he let her take at least a short nap? It seemed terribly mean.
“I know, dear. You had quite a tumble. But can you stay awake, for me?” His voice was equally worried and cajoling. That seemed strange to her, but she couldn’t quite think of why. Maybe it would come to her after she had a rest.
Very far away, she heard her name called, in some tone of distress. She felt like she was being shaken, but she couldn’t figure out how to come to full consciousness. It seemed important to do so, thus it was faintly alarming that she couldn’t seem to.
Out of nowhere, she felt pressure on her mouth, warm and wet and soft. It was surprising enough that she flailed fully awake, to see it was Percy kissing her. As soon as he noticed she was conscious, he pulled back, his face relieved.
“You wouldn’t wake up, even when I shook you, and it was the only thing I could think to do--” She began to laugh, and then stopped, wincing with pain. Percy took her hand, squeezing it. It didn’t make anything hurt less, but it was nice.
“Looks like I’m here just in time.” They both looked up to see Pike floating on Bigby’s spectral hand, her face suspiciously grave, but her eyes sparking with mischief.
“And we are so very glad to see you,” Percy said, helping her off the sparkling purple hand. She came up to Vex, gently inspecting the wound before clutching her holy symbol and whispering an incantation. It flared with light, and the pain in Vex’s head receded, along with the fogginess she’d felt since the fall.
“Thank you, Pike,” she said, more weakly than she expected.
“Come on, let’s get out of here. Scanlan has the mansion prepared already.” Pike made a motion towards the hand, and Percy helped Vex up. She leaned against him heavily, but he made no complaint.
She was awake, but still in bed when she heard a knock at her door. She opened it to see Percy in the hallway, looking anxious.
“First of all, how are you feeling?”
“Better, thank you.” She’d had close to a full rest, and while she was still stiff and bruised, her head didn’t hurt anymore, and there was no lingering weakness.
“I want to apologize. For earlier.” Spots of color were high on his cheeks, and he fidgeted in a way she was not used to seeing. “I should have found another way to wake you up, or waited for Pike--”
“Percival.” He shut his mouth. “It was done in concern, even if your methods were unorthodox.” He allowed himself a small smile, and she was satisfied he would not keep fretting over it.
She tugged him down by his lapels, kissing him as thoroughly as she knew how. His eyes widened in surprise before leaning into it, his hand cupping her cheek. Eventually, regretfully, she had to pull away, but she considered the needy, yearning noise Percy made when she did adequate recompense.
She sighed and leaned her head against his chest, inhaling the smell of soap and gunpowder that never quite went away. “Thank you for watching out for me.”
He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “To the best of my ability, I always will.”