A hand is on my head, trembling slightly as it traces circles on my cheek. I let myself breathe, a slight groan released. The hand stops.
“V? Can you hear me?” Seb’s voice is anxious, tense. I feel my face straining as I try and formulate a response. My chest feels as if it has been ripped apart, my skull as if it has shattered, my lips and throat are dry. When I try to speak, the words get stuck.
“Ye-yes.” I manage, trying to offer some kind of encouragement. Of course, I probably worried him more by the weakness of my voice. His shaking hand finds mine, grasping it just a little too tightly as he exhales. With a sigh I try to open my eyes.
Everything goes white. But not for too long, the lights are dimmed to their lowest, presumably to let me sleep. I’m in my room; I recognise the subtle imperfections in the plain white ceiling. I notice all the hairline cracks around each light fitting, how one light is slightly lower than the rest. Tilting my head forward sends a stabbing down my neck, but it allows me to see Seb’s forced smile.
“How are you?” He asks softly, not wanting to wake me too violently. I try to smile back, but I can’t persuade my muscles to cooperate. I try to make a quick assessment, my chest and head hurt like hell and my legs ache a little. I can feel where my fingernails dug into the skin beneath my neck, but I don’t remember it.
“What happened?” I’ve had enough of waiting. Maybe Seb can sort out some of the contradictions in my muddled head. He looks down for a moment, his eyes closed. I watch him, intrigued, bracing myself for his words.
“You stood up from your desk and ran to the window, it was like you were looking for something apparently, I wasn’t there, I don’t know. But anyway, you started staring, a few people tried to work out what was there but they couldn’t see anything. Then…” He trails off, his hand to his face, he coughs. “Sorry, um…then you screamed, you screamed and screamed. And you collapsed, you started shaking, like you were trying to throw someone off you. You wouldn’t stop, Cal phoned me and I came running, I saw you, your eyes were still open, but…but there was nothing there, it was like…I don’t know, it was terrifying. I thought you were gone, everyone tried to stop you kicking, but you wouldn’t, you kept hitting your head on the wall. Eventually, your eyes closed, and you relaxed. It was like someone clicked their fingers and you were asleep.” His face was a wreck, a pang of guilt adds to the aching in my chest. I can’t believe I did this to him, but I know it’s true. I sit up slowly, despite his protests, and pull him into an embrace.
“I’m so sorry.” I whisper to him, he tries to pull away, but I don’t let him. He flinches as I put a little pressure on his left arm.
“Are you OK?” His gaze doesn’t quite meet mine as he replies, a little embarrassed, or ashamed?
“I just tripped on the stairs when I was rushing to find you. I landed on my arm, it’s a little sore but it’s really nothing.” I release the pressure and he smiles a thank you. He’s not normally so apologetic, although I guess the events of today explain that. Looking in his emerald eyes, all I can see is fearful concern. I realise that Seb is not quite as good at hiding his emotions as I thought, today has exposed him, shown me his true colours. And I love them.
In a moment of unprocessed joy, I lean in and let his lips touch mine. Although taken by surprise, he quickly returns my unrestrained kiss. Holding the moment, making it last as long as I can, longer still. I begin to feel dizzy, a combination of the immense love I feel and of my increasing need for Oxygen. He breaks away first, keeping his forehead on mine. He smiles and whispers to me.
“Now sleep.” He lays me back; I stick out my bottom lip, mocking him. He sticks out his tongue. Damn. We’re adults not kids. He grins at my reaction, getting slowly to his feet, avoiding putting weight on his left arm. With a last look back at me, he turns the lights off completely and closes the door.
I smile to myself for a while, the pain long forgotten. It still twinges faintly with each laboured breath, but I am able to ignore it for a while at least. Why did this happen? Was I hallucinating? Or just dreaming? My mind wanders, finally giving up its pursuit for an explanation. I don’t need an explanation, yes I’m worried, but an explanation wouldn’t change that. With that thought, my lids fall.
Everything goes black.