There, somewhere in the still black night, was a soft sound. Something barely tickling at the edge of his hearing. Something that drew his attention through the sluggish press of sleep.
He tried to turn to the side, bring the sound closer to his understanding, but there was a weight on his chest. That was enough to stir him to action. "Lou?" He whispered the sound and winced as his throat rasped with pain.
Swiping his tongue over his lip he felt a moment of satisfaction as his dry throat was soothed with moisture.
The motion pulled him further from the dark and his ears awoke and reached out for the sound he'd been struggling to hear.
Crying. The soft gasping sounds that were left when sobs had come and gone. There was an acre of pain filling the room and he forced his eyes open, desperate to know what was wrong.
The voice was a miracle, a dream dawning in the middle of the darkness and Louise grabbed onto it with both hands. Pulling her sodden handkerchief from her eyes she turned toward the bed and her lungs grasped at the first real breath she'd taken all night.
Jimmy, so very pale amongst the linens of their bed, peered over at her with dark shadows of concern in his eyes. "Why didn't you wake me?"
"Why didn't I-" she could only blink at him as her mind struggled to understand what she was hearing, "Why didn't I wake you?"
She saw the spread of his fingers as he reached out a hand to her and a half-a-heartbeat later she was out of her chair and on her knees beside their bed. She held his hand in hers and stared at the minute movements of each finger, pressing one after another to her lips.
The warmth she felt beneath the callused skin gave new life to her prayers.
"Lou?" He tugged on his hand and found that his strength was gone. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." The word left her lips before she even formed the thought in her head. "Nothing… everything is going to be fine."
Pressing the back of his hand against her cheek she leaned closer, blinking away the tears. She saw the confusion in his expression and realized that he didn't remember the hell they'd been through that night.
He listened to her words, surviving through the pauses and enjoying the warmth of her fingers laced with his. The story sounded like one of Teaspoon's stories of the war and maybe that's what it had been for her. For him it was a huge black gap of time in his head. He heard the desperation in her voice and his own throat closed tight over as the truth of her words nearly did him in.
"We nearly lost you."
The truth of it was plain to see. The dark circles under her eyes, the pain pinching at the corners of her mouth. It was humbling and hurt to see how much she'd suffered for him.
There was little strength left in his body, but he summoned enough to raise his other arm around the bandages wrapped about his chest. The first brush of his fingertips against her cheek brought a soft gasp from her lips. "Jimmy."
What he wanted to do was pull her beside him where she belonged, but the twinge of pain he'd felt with the simple movement of his arm was warning enough. Instead, he slid his fingers through her hair, tugging down a soft wave that had nearly won free of its pin and smoothing the strands against his skin.
"I'm here." He knew they were just words. Words that would never erase the suffering she'd endured for him.
There was so much in her eyes; the pain, the worry, the threat of loss and loneliness. It ached to look into her eyes and see how much they both could have lost.
"I know." It hurt to hear her voice, so thick with concern. "I-I just…" she looked away for a moment, trying to pull her thoughts together, the words slow to her lips, "I wouldn't let the doctor tell me… wouldn't let him console me… there wasn't any need. That's what I told him." Lou drew in a long slow breath. "I told him you would come back."
Jimmy nodded slightly, his gaze concentrated on her, trying to ignore the pain that threatened to overwhelm him with every breath.
She blinked, trying to hold back the tears. "I couldn't imagine what it would be like, without…"
"And you don't have to… not now."
The fight seemed to flow right out of her, her cheek resting along his arm as her hands grasped his. He looked down at her and wanted so much to tell her things were going to be fine. That he would be up and around in now time. But he knew by the chill of the night air on his skin and the ache throbbing through his side that it wasn't the truth, not yet.
So he contented himself watching the soft rise and fall of her shoulders as she slumbered beside him. Exactly where she should be.
Author's Note: Inspired by the song "To Know Love" sung by: Little Big Town