Bedsides (PG-13)

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She stood there, looking down at him, holding his hand.  Even unconscious the pain wasn’t completely gone.  She could see it in his face, in the lines of tension that wouldn’t go away. 


How many times, how damn many times had she had to face this?  How many times had she sat beside his bed, praying for him to live?  He wasn’t Superman, he wasn’t invulnerable.  Why did he persist in the fantasy that he was?  They couldn’t tell her yet with any confidence that he’d live. 


Too many, that was the answer.  The first time was when he’d been shot during the rescue attempt in Raleigh.  ‘Don’t go near the white cross’.  That warning had been useless to them.  Then when they had found him in the Arctic after he’d been exposed to the alien bounty hunter.  That had been a close one.  She’d had to scream at the doctors to make them listen, to make them understand that the cold was the only thing keeping him alive.  If she’d been any later . . .


And there were those damn tobacco beetles in Durham.  Twice in North Carolina, maybe they should start avoiding that state.  There was the time they had fished him out of the Bermuda Triangle.  Okay, as scary as that had been it was the first time he’d told her that he loved her.  The first time out loud, anyway.  She wanted to smile at that memory; she hoped she’d be able to soon.


Okay, not a hospital, but she’d sat at his side caring for him after she had shot him.  She shuddered even after all these years at the audacity of her taking that shot.  Yes, she was good but . . .


When he’d been paralyzed by Aboah; after the train explosion when X had rescued him; when he’d allowed that quack to drill into his head.  She’d feared for his sanity if not his life when Pincus had infiltrated VinylRight and done . . . whatever he had done.  Oh, and when that mushroom had tried to eat them in North Carolina - Damn, North Carolina again.  She was definitely putting in a request to avoid the state at all costs.  She shuddered again.  Too damn many times.


Of course he’d spent some time at her bedsides as well.  Her abduction; she knew now that he was the reason she had lived.  He had sat beside her and anchored her here, made her want to return to life.  And again when she’d been in the hospital, so near death from her cancer.  She had woken to find him asleep, his head on her bed.  She could see that he had been crying and she had thought of waking him, trying to reassure him.  Since there was no reassurance, she had let him sleep relishing his closeness as he seemed to relish hers.  He hadn’t been there when she woke, avoiding Bill.  She had understood that, but not finding him there had sapped what little strength she’d gained through the night.


He’d stay by her when she had threatened to shoot him again, paranoid from the television viewing.  And of course, when she’d awakened in New York after Payton shot her, he hadn’t left her side.  He hadn’t told her what he had gone through, but the lines in his face, the scattered white hairs near his brow had said volumes.  She wasn’t sure why she had lived that time, but she had broken down and finally told him Bruckman’s words to her.  Part of her wished she still hadn’t, but he had been so relieved as though, as though her life meant more to him than his own.  He had it so wrong.


How many times could they cheat death? 


She held his hand to her cheek, cupping it, pressing into it.  Then she turned and placed a long kiss into his palm.  Then she looked back at his face and was startled to see that the lines in his face had smoothed out, he looked more relaxed now, as though the pain had lessened.  He knew she was here, where she belonged.



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