Sharon’s Note: So, this series continues to be free therapy. Most of the hospital staff I’ve met have been wonderful and made my stay as good as possible, but being in the hospital sucks. There’s no getting around it. A good attitude helps though. Warning: Cameos from the first story.
My hate for hospitals was low level. I had a great respect for the staff, but everything else was horrible. The food was cheap and easy, felt as sterile and impersonal, and was always cold. All these things were by necessity, but didn’t make them any less uncomfortable. More than anything else was the smell. No matter how much bleach got used, there was always a subtle wrong smell underneath. Sickness has a smell, and it lingers like smoke.
Now that I was mobile enough to use a wheelchair, I didn’t have to stare at the same four walls as much. Of course, after Irma returned me to my room I was instructed to keep my butt in bed for the next couple of hours and rest. I flicked through the channels on the television, debating between a rerun of Mash and a documentary on women warriors in history.
Someone knocked lightly on the door frame. I looked over and a grin spread across my face. “Hey, Brian.”
“Hey, Joy.” The man I had saved from being werewolf food walked into the room holding a bunch of blue carnations.
I raised an eyebrow. “Those are the ‘It’s a Boy’ flowers from the gift shop.”
He blushed and shrugged. “They were out of all the other flowers.”
“I haven’t seen you since they let you out.” I crossed my arms and fought not to smile. I didn’t actually mind, but I had to give him a little hell.
“Yeah, sorry about that. I, um, signed up with Hearth. Training’s been rough.” He ducked his head, but it did nothing to hide the pride in his voice.
I gave up and chuckled. “Yeah, Joe can be a bit of a slave driver.”
“You aren’t kidding. I thought that my arms were going to fall off after the first day.” He grimaced and rubbed his arm.
“Ah, yes. The infamous breaking in pushups. I remember those all too well.” My own arms twinged from sympathy at the memory, or maybe from today’s workout. “It’s his way of weeding out the people who aren’t serious. You’d be surprised at how many people decide they don’t want to play Hunter anymore after Joe’s intro program.”
Brian lifted his chin. “Well, he’s going to have to try a lot harder to scare me away. I missed eight funerals while I was in here with you. There were two more I had to attend when I got out. We had to commit my aunt because we were afraid she was going to hurt herself with her husband and son gone. I’m not letting this happen to anyone else.”
Sadness and pride swelled together in my chest. “I’m sorry for what happened.”
He snorted. “Don’t be sorry. I’ve heard what happened that night. You lost most of your team trying to help us, then you were the only one who had the guts to try and save us.”
“It wasn’t a matter of guts. There was more than one wolf that night-”
“Don’t make excuses for them.” Brian’s fist clenched, crushing the carnations in his fist.
I didn’t want to argue with him. He already had a Hunter’s determination. We were a stubborn breed. Once we decided something there was no dissuading us. I looked down at the sheets piled over my lap. “I’ll probably be getting out in a few weeks. That means I’ll get to see you at Hearth.”
His smile returned. “Yeah, maybe they’ll put me on your new team.”
I had to laugh. “They are never going to trust me with a team again. Not after the stunt I pulled. It’s fine though. I knew the risks when I left that night. They can always use more support.”
“Nah, you’re too good for them to just let you wither away doing research.”
“Maybe, but they’ll let me stew there for a while as punishment.” I shrugged. “Are you going to visit Max and Ethan while you’re here?”
Brian grunted. “I’ll drop by before I leave. Ethan is best in short doses.”
“That he is.” I laughed.