Recovery - An Open Wounds Short Story
This story features Dagen and Ollie from Carry and Drag. It takes place between chapter 13 and the epilogue and features a bit of hurt/comfort while Dagen is still in the hospital. Enjoy!
The last twenty-four hours were a blur. At least he thought it had only been a day. The collage of pain, sleep, and the indignities of a hospital gown swirled around in his mind until he was nauseous with it. Thank god after he’d had to get up the first time they’d let him wear just shorts instead.
A sling kept his left arm bent and strapped to his chest. It was a pain in the ass, but prevented further injury to his broken collarbone and the sutured incision where they'd removed the bullet from his shoulder. A fucking bullet. It still didn’t feel real.
“Do you need something, sweetie?” A warm hand smoothed over the skin of his forearm and the gentle comfort it always brought blanketed him. His mom’s face came into view a moment later. “Some water?”
Dagen nodded his head and winced at the fresh stab of pain the movement caused. His mom brought the little white straw sticking out of a Styrofoam cup to his lips and he drank gratefully. His mouth was so dry.
Moving only his eyes, he glanced around the dim room. The clock on the wall read nine and the darkness beyond the partially open blinds confirmed the sun had set on another day. He felt clearer than he had the other times he’d woken. Images of his brothers—Magnus, Vidar, and Harbor—swam up out of the fog of the day’s events, their strong hands and sure presence helping to steady him when he hadn’t been stable on his own feet. And Ollie. Ollie hadn’t left his side.
“He just ran home to grab a few things.”
He moved his eyes back to his mom’s face to find a knowing smile pulling up the sides of her mouth. “He should stay there and get some rest.”
“You try telling that boy he needs to leave you to rest and see how far you get.” She pulled the one recliner in the room, which didn’t look comfortable at all, closer to his bedside and sat down. “He’s a sweet one though. Poor thing was a wreck while you were in surgery.” Her words broke off and she wiped at her nose. Dagen couldn’t turn his head any farther to see her downcast eyes, but he reached his hand in her direction and hers slipped into it. “You scared us pretty bad, baby.”
“I’m sorry, Mom.” Dagen’s own eyes started to well and he closed them. The scene that had led him to this hospital bed broke into his thoughts and sent a pulse of fear through him all over again. “He was going to shoot Ollie. I couldn’t—”
“Sssh.” His mom stood up again and brushed her other hand over his forehead before pressing a kiss there. “It’s okay, baby. You did what you had to do and I’m so proud of you. We all are. You just rest now.”
He was exhausted. Keeping his eyes open for only a few minutes felt like the equivalent of an eight-hundred-pound deadlift. For reps. It was exhilarating and painful, and you were ready to fall over and not move for a month when it was done.
There was a warm hand in his, but it wasn’t his mom’s. The skin was familiar though. He smiled before he even opened his eyes as he ran his thumb over the long fingers curling around his. The room was quiet and as long as he stayed still, the pain in his torso remained a distant ache. Fabric rustled beside him and then a thumb was stroking over his fingers as well.
“You awake?” Ollie’s whispered voice sounded sleep rough and Dagen opened his eyes to look at the man sitting at his bedside. He looked tired. There were wrinkles in his shirt and the dark circles under his eyes were made even more prominent from the shadows cast by the beam of bright, white light falling into the room from the crack in the door.
“What time is it?”
Ollie picked up his phone from where it sat on the rolling table beside him and squinted at the screen. “Two thirty. In the AM, obviously.” He gave a little chuckle and set his phone back down. “Do you need anything?”
Dagen squeezed his hand, a self-deprecating chuckle of his own breaking free. “I need to pee.”
Ollie nodded and immediately stood, moving the chair and table out of the way. Dagen used his good hand to raise the head of the bed until he was sitting upright and could just swing his legs around to the floor without having to pull himself up.
“Should I get a nurse?”
“No, I think I’m ok. Um, I might need a little help with my shorts though.”
Ollie winked at him. “I think I can manage that.”
Dagen’s feet found the floor and a shiver went through him at the chill. He braced his right hand on the bed and pushed himself to his feet with only a minor wince. A small wave of dizziness made his head spin, and Ollie pressed a hand to his back and gripped his elbow to steady him.
“Sure you’re okay?”
He sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. The dizziness faded as he acclimated to being upright and he gave a tiny nod. “Yeah, just took a second to adjust.” Dagen moved forward, one cautious step at a time. The cool tiles beneath his bare feet welcome after the head rush left a sheen of sweat forming along his hairline and upper lip. Ollie stayed right with him, one hand on his elbow and the other resting on his lower back.
The bathroom light was a harsh glare and Dagen blinked as his eyes adjusted. Ollie pushed the door closed behind them and asked, “Do you want to sit down? Will that make it easier?”
“I don’t know.” He pushed at the waistband of his shorts with his right hand and Ollie stepped behind him to push the left side down as well. “I think I can stand,” Dagen said, his hand moving to aim himself at the toilet before he swayed forward and released himself to brace a hand against the wall.
“Easy and here,” Ollie reached around him to grab a plastic hand-held urinal from its perch on the back of the toilet. “I think you’re supposed to pee in this.” Then he carefully slipped his other arm around Dagen’s waist as well and wrapped his hand around Dagen’s soft penis and placed him in the urinal’s opening.
Heat swarmed Dagen’s body, but not for the reasons that usually accompanied Ollie’s touch. He tried to breathe and focus. Just let it happen. But after a minute of awkward silence he sighed while the flush continued to creep over his body.
“Stop it,” Ollie whispered against his back before pressing a kiss between his shoulder blades. “Just let go, babe.”
Dagen huffed, his embarrassment coloring his words. “It’s not exactly easy.” Their relationship had already been on a fast track, Dagen knew that, but this was like warp speed ahead. The lust haze they’d spent the previous week in had been wonderful as they’d explored and lavished each other’s bodies. But this? This was a whole other level of vulnerable.
“If it were me, would you want me to be embarrassed?”
“No,” Dagen’s answer was immediate, despite those very same feelings swirling inside him now, if roles were reversed Dagen wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever Ollie needed and wouldn’t for a moment let him feel bad about it. With that thought in mind, he blew out a big breath and filled the urinal to the halfway mark. When he finished Ollie set the urinal back in its spot for the nurse to record the amount then tucked Dagen away as he helped him pull up his shorts before washing his hands and opening the door.
“Come on.” He kissed Dagen’s shoulder. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
They'd only made it half-way back when a dark-haired nurse swept into the room and read them the riot act for not calling for help.
"Sorry," Dagen said, looking sheepish as he lowered himself to sit on the edge of the bed and the middle-aged woman softened.
"Just call from now on, okay? A member of hospital staff needs to be with you at least until you're a bit steadier on your feet."
Dagen nodded his ascent and sat quietly while she checked all his vitals. He flexed his right hand, the intrusion of the IV port still in his arm a minor ache to that of his shoulder. They'd unhooked him from fluids only a few hours ago but had left the port as a precaution. He was told if his condition stayed the same it would come out in the morning and he was so ready. He wanted to go home. Wanted to see Ollie sprawled out in their bed, sleeping peacefully, instead of across a hospital room looking like death warmed over. A flash of Ollie on his knees, a gun pressed to his head, and fear in his eyes shot through Dagen's mind and the heart monitor she'd slipped over his finger beeped at the sudden spike in his pulse.
"You doing okay, Dagen?" His nurse asked, searching his face for signs of distress.
"Yeah, just tired," he replied. He could feel Ollie's eyes on him and he turned his head to give his boyfriend what he hoped was a reassuring smile. The way Ollie's eyes narrowed told him he wasn't successful.
"Ok. Let's get you laid back down," the nurse started, but Dagen stopped her.
"Actually, can I sit here for a minute? I'm fine and I promise to lay back soon."
She looked at him for only a moment, eyes darting to Ollie, then returning to his with a little smile. "Only for a few minutes. And nothing to get your heart rate up. Understood?"
"Yes, ma'am," he said, color coming back to his cheeks while he watched her head through the door before closing it behind her.
Ollie was in front of him before it clicked shut, moving in close enough between Dagen's spread knees that he was able to lean forward and rest his forehead against Ollie's chest while he wrapped his good arm around his hips. Sure fingers carded through his hair and slid down to knead the muscles of Dagen's neck and right shoulder. The gentle pressure released some of the tension he'd been carrying and even though it pulled slightly at the wound on his left side it felt wonderful.
"I can't believe I almost lost you," Dagen's voice hitched as he clutched Ollie tighter, breathing in the scent of him. With his mind clearing of the fog of surgery and pain medication, images of the previous night's events, like the one he'd just experienced kept filtering in. It felt like a nightmare and Dagen was still having trouble reconciling the fact that it had all really happened.
Ollie's fingers twitched on the back of his neck. "Me? Dagen, y-you got shot." Ollie pulled back and met his eyes. Tear tracks streaked his beautiful face and Dagen brought his hand up to cup his cheek, thumb sweeping under Ollie's eye. "You took a bullet for me." He shook his head, a little sob breaking free. "Why did you do that?"
Dagen's own tears spilled over now and he shook his head. He almost said it. To hell with convention and timing but held himself back. What had happened was a hell of an extenuating circumstance, but there was still that fear niggling in the back of his brain that he could fuck this up. Get ahead of himself. Move too fast and scare Ollie off. He'd just survived a bullet and yet the thought of ruining what he could feel building between them sent a lance of pain through him like none he'd ever known. Ollie's warm hands cupped his face, thumbs wiping the tear tracks away.
"Because sometimes you need people to take care of you and... I just couldn't let you get hurt. He doesn’t get to hurt you anymore, Ollie." Dagen said, voice raspy.
The dark brown of Ollie's eyes melted to chocolate pools. He leaned down and pressed his lips to Dagen's in a wet kiss. Dagen whimpered against him and opened his mouth. Ollie's tongue swept in to slide against his in a dance of velvet heat before he pulled back and pressed gentle kisses to Dagen's nose and forehead then rested his own against it. "Can't get your heart rate up, remember?"
Dagen nodded, relishing the warm cloud of Ollie's breath mixing with his own. "Lay down with me?"
"Do you think we'll both fit?" Ollie chuckled, wiping at his eyes again.
Dagen pretended to contemplate. "It'll be tight. We may have to snuggle."
Drawing in a shaky breath, Ollie said, "Well, if we must."
It took a moment, but Dagen got himself laid back and in as comfortable a position as he could hope for. Ollie kicked off his shoes and climbed up beside him. He had to lay on his side with his arm up under his head and the length of him pressed against Dagen's right side. Once they were settled, Ollie reached for Dagen's right hand and rested their twined fingers on Dagen's hip before kissing his shoulder.
Just before he drifted off, Ollie's lips moved, forming words where they were still pressed to Dagen's skin. He couldn't hear what Ollie said, as exhaustion and pain pulled him under, but Dagen got the feeling that even if he hadn't been able to say the words he wanted earlier that Ollie had heard them anyway.
Copyright 2018 Michelle Frost