Minute by Minute Ch. 03byRosenkrantz©
Hey guys, Thank you for waiting so patiently. Also , thank you for all the wonderful comments and encouraging emails(: This chapter's extra long, so have fun.
The trip had gone without a hitch. Noah had stayed asleep the whole time, barely even twitching when we moved him.
The ship was wide, with several floors for patients with different needs. We had been put into a large, long room, with the far facing wall completely made out of glass.
For the duration of the trip, I sat in a chair beside Noah's bed, staring out at the endless amounts of stars. I thought about Noah, and what I had gotten myself into. I wondered about his life back home, and how he had come to be in possession of Caochian documents.
His family life also caused me to think; when I had invaded their house, the little girl had grabbed my hand and led me straight upstairs. It hadn't crossed my mind at the time, but as I thought about it, I realized that she had stayed upstairs, out of sight. Even when her father was being dragged away and I was carrying Noah out, I hadn't seen her with her siblings. And when she and Lucas had come to the hospital, he had kept a close hold on her at all times. Whenever a doctor came too close, or a nurse came into Noah's room, he had moved discreetly in front of her. What was he protecting her from?
So many questions, the answer to all of them lying next to me, peacefully unconscious; dead to the rest of our problems, and to what he had gone through. For that, I was thankful.
For now though, we were bunked up in a windowless metal box. It made sense, as coma patients didn't need windows, but I was feeling claustrophobic. The doctors and healers at the Ceri'Ooana who had received us were friendly, but sometimes all too technical. I was used to the wide open plains and earthy smells of my home, but here, all I could smell was disinfectant and fish.
The healers had encouraged me to stay with Noah in the room and talk to him as much as possible. I had taken to telling him stories of my land.
I told him of the Skorki, large amphibious creatures that we trained and rode. I warned him of the dangers of the ground outside of Adennan, the port that my father was Kohar of. The whole area was fenced to keep out fierce predators, but mostly to discourage the Horgin. The Horgin were huge worms who preyed underneath the earth, launching themselves out of the ground and snatching up unsuspecting animals in their large maw before dragging them back underground. The fence kept Adennan safe, but wandering outside was extremely dangerous.
But all the stories I could come up with couldn't distract me from the time. It had been a week.
A week since I had seen him across a field and was floored by his beauty.
A week since his father had nearly killed him.
I was tired of telling him stories and laughing at my own jokes. I wanted to hear what his laugh sounded like. Would it be quiet and sweet like I expected? Maybe he would surprise me and burst out into loud rumbling shouts.
Not to mention that I hadn't even heard his voice yet.
I wanted to hear him speak my language, to know how the short clipped words would roll off his tongue.
I jumped up, my heart beating wildly. On the other side of the room, still standing next to the door, was an old friend.
"Isir, it is good to see you. When did you arrive? Did you call for me?" I checked the computer on the wall, but no messages had been left.
"No, Loemach, I wanted to see you and your human boy that all the healers have been talking about. They say he is the most delicate pale beauty that they've ever seen." He smirked, "Will you let me look if I promise not to steal him from you?"
I laughed and gestured to the bed. "The doctors say that they've managed to heal his internal bleeding, and that they'd like to start on his bones soon." I watched as Isir pulled the covers back and placed a hand on Noah's pale chest. The bruises were gone, but he still looked so fragile.
Isir hummed lightly and bent his forehead down to Noah's, his eyes closed. As he focused, I sat on the edge of the bed. Isir was a highly renowned healer of the Ceri'Ooana, and my best friend. Right now he was feeling through Noah's wounds and deciding what needed to be addressed next.
Finally, he sighed and stood. Passing a webbed hand over his face, he sunk gracefully to the floor.
Still looking at the floor, he spoke, "Adrai,"
Fear spiked through me. Isir only used my first name when the situation was dire. I had given it to him at a vulnerable time, and he knew that I preferred him not to use it.
"He's been through so much. So much unnecessary pain." He said weakly, "It will take a long time for him to fully heal. We can heal his bones and his damaged organs, but his mind... Adrai, it might never come back. I can feel him in there, he's not brain dead, but he is adamantly reluctant to wake up."
"So he's just being stubborn?" I said incredulously.
"No. All he's ever known is pain, Adrai. He probably expects more pain when he wakes up."
"But I've been talking to him, telling him stories. They said that it was possible for him to hear me even though he was asleep. Shouldn't he know that I'm here?"
Isir huffed in exasperation and grabbed my hand roughly. "It is possible, yes. But depending on how far down in the far recesses of his mind he is, he might not be able to hear you. But do not stop. If by chance that he comes forward and can hear you, he will need that contact." He leaned his face into mine, glaring, "Do not give up on him. You took responsibility. You will be here for him."
I stood abruptly, dragging Isir with me. I flexed my claws out and pressed them against his chest, hissing, "I did not say that I was giving up. I am frustrated, but he is mine. Now tell me what you will have your healers do next, and get out." With that I turned my back on him and went to sit by Noah.
"Fine. K'loemach. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply that you would leave him. His pain got to me, you know how it does." When I didn't turn around, he sighed and I heard the clank of metal against metal. "I'll set an appointment for tomorrow in the Ceri'Oorla. You may watch, if you wish. I hope to see you again while you're here, Loemach. Goodbye." I listened to his soft footsteps walk through the door, and the soft hiss and click as it closed behind him.
The nurses came the next day to lift Noah onto a large stretcher and roll him through the hallways. I walked alongside, my hand never leaving his arm. The halls were wide enough to fit three stretchers comfortably, and most were sided by large windows staring out into the sea.
We had walked for a ways when we came to a double set of doors. A nurse placed her webbed hand onto a nearly invisible screen on the wall, and the doors whispered open.
Another nurse just inside the door took the medical reader form where it was hanging on Noah's stretcher. She read aloud, "Noah Drummond Lower Born, URNAS12D8AG07032187NDLB." She looked up at me, nodding when I did and writing something down on the tablet. "All right, come in. We're almost ready."
The room inside was huge. A pool in the center of the floor dominated most of it, with steps on all sides leading down into the water. A pleasant smell was wafting from it, making me feel relaxed. I saw Isir working on a large computer console that was facing the water. Wandering over to him, I placed a hand on his shoulder. He stiffened before turning to look at me, tense until he looked into my eyes and the wariness was replaced by warmth and a loud chuckle.
He laughed and tilted his head back to look at me better. "It's gotten to you, I see."
I was confused, "What d'ya mean? I jus' wanted to say hello." I smiled at him, liking the feeling of my cheeks stretching. I tried to smile wider, but my fangs cut into my lower lip.
"Ow! Isi, my fangs are too big." I pulled my lip into my mouth, sucking the blood from the cut. Isir was staring at me in astonishment, but I couldn't figure out what I'd done.
"Loe, you haven't called me Isi since we were little boys. And your fangs aren't too big, and stop looking at me like a cub that just got his first kill taken away from him. I didn't realize that the herbs in the water would have such an effect on your species." He laughed and dragged me over to the counters lining the right side of the room. He dabbed a bit of salve on my lip, and I could feel it tingling as it knit itself back together. It felt nice.
I didn't realize I was giggling until Isir shoved a cup of foul smelling brownish liquid under my nose.
"For god's sake, Loe, drink this before I have to haul you out of here. It smells awful and tastes just as bad, but it'll clear your mind. You want to watch the ritual, don't you? They're about ready to bring Noah into the water."
Noah. I liked Noah. I turned around, swaying a bit on my feet, and saw the nurses stripping Noah of his garments.
Why were they getting him naked? A protective growl rose out of my throat, and I tried to lumber my way towards the stretcher, cup still in hand.
"Loe, where'd you—Loe! K'loemach, stop!" I heard Isir running towards me, his feet slapping on the cold metal floor.
The other nurses who were touching Noah had stopped and were staring at me now, horrified looks on their faces. I felt my foot submerge in something wet, and I looked down. Suddenly blue ground was rushing up at me as I tipped forward. I jerked to a stop right before I hit the water, a reflection of myself staring wide-eyed up at me. Two strong webbed hands were wrapped around my biceps.
"Goddamnit, Loe." Isir grunted behind me and hefted me onto my feet. "If you wanted to see Noah, you have to go around the pool, dumbass. Now let's get you another cup of the stuff you spilled all over my floor, and then you can go growl at the nurses."
I nodded and slowly followed him back to the counters, this time keeping a careful watch on the floor. He smiled at me as I obediently gulped down the gross drink, but my mind immediately cleared.
"What the fuck just happened?"
He burst out laughing and shook his head. "You got high off the healing herbs, that's what. Now come on, we've held up the ritual long enough."
I walked with him to his post at the computer, and sat down on the solid bench next to it. He pressed a few buttons on the transparent screen and looked towards the nurses, nodding.
I watched as the healers separated themselves from the group. They stripped off their robes and waded into the water. Their skin was all different shades of green, shimmering in the bright light. They formed a circle in the water and joined hands. No, on closer inspection, they were just resting their hands on top of the water, with just their fingers interlaced. They all bowed their heads and began to sway.
Moving in complete synchronization, their hips beat a rhythm into the water, throwing waves up around them. I could hear their musical voices chanting softly, never opening their eyes or losing touch with one another. The water moved faster and faster, swirling around and between each healer. Waves crashed up the steps, brushing my ankles. I gasped as it did.
Even in the small touch, I could feel the healing strength seep into me.
The group broke apart slowly, opening their eyes. Their bodies still moved to a silent beat that only they could hear, but now they were forming a line up the steps towards Noah. The nurses on the steps carefully passed him down into their arms, singing along with the others.
My chest tightened as I watched them lower him into the water, all laying their hands on a part of his body. He seemed so small.
I wanted to leap into the water and grab him into my arms. I dug my fingers into the bench instead.
I felt Isir's hand on my shoulder, squeezing tightly as if he too, was restraining me from interrupting the healing ritual.
The chanting got louder, filling my eardrums. They were all bent tightly over Noah, but I could see parts of his limbs. I winced the first time I saw a bone straighten out. I winced again when his ankle jerked and cracked before popping into correct place.
"Isir, he can't feel anything can he? That looks... incredibly painful."
Isir squeezed my shoulder again before sitting next to me. He gave me a sympathetic look, but shook his head.
"No. He's so far under already, and they can block his mind from feeling the pain. You've felt it before, when I've healed your broken bones. It's much more intense than that, though. Whatever place you went to when I healed you, imagine it ten times brighter, a hundred times softer. He feels no pain, I promise."
I smiled, glad that I hadn't broken my own promises to Chloe and Lucas.
The chanting went on. Every so often, a healer would step back and submerge himself into the water. Isir said it was to rejuvenate the senses and ready them for another round of healing. My legs were getting stiff as I sat there, watching them chant softly to Noah.
Eventually, things seemed to be calming down. The voices got quieter and the healers started to move away, one by one. Each looked exhausted, their faces drawn and their previously shining skin was a dull gray. A nurse received each one as they ascended the steps out of the pool, wrapping a robe around them and leading them out of the room.
Noah was left floating in the water. His skin glowed with life, all of his injuries gone. I felt a hand grab mine.
"Let's go get him, Adrai. Think you can lift him out of the water?" The voice seemed amused. I turned my eyes towards the speaker. Isir. I couldn't seem to process anything that was going on. I shook my head fiercely, trying to throw myself out of the fog the ritual had put me under.
"Say that again?" I squinted up at Isir.
"Noah, Adrai. I was asking if you thought you could lift him up out of the water. He no longer needs physical healing, just patience and compassion." He stepped down into the pool, holding out a hand to me.
"Oh, yes. Of course," I slowly stood, cracking my stiff knees. I waded down into the still warm water to Noah's floating body. He was so beautiful. I ran my fingers over his skin, searching for any of the hard bumps that had riddled his bones before.
All I found was damp silky skin. Carefully, I pulled him into my arms, nestling his head into my neck. He fit to me so perfectly. I pressed a kiss to his forehead. His name tumbled unwittingly out of my mouth, over and over. I kissed him again, this time on his unresponsive lips.
I rose out of the water, absently noticing as Isir wrapped us both in a large robe.
We somehow made it back to our room, though I don't remember looking up form Noah's face even once. I laid him gently on the bed, following him down. Still unable to look away, I pulled the covers up around us and drew Noah into my arms. His faint breath fluttered against my chest.
Wrapped tightly around him, I managed to drift to sleep.
Warmth. It surrounded me. I slowly opened my eyes and discovered that I really was dead. My golden ocean was still there. I swore I had felt myself coming out of it, but all I could see was golden skin.
Okay so, not my ocean. I tried to turn my head and see who my personal heater was, but the arms just tightened around me and a soft growl ruffled my hair. No moving allowed. At least I could tell that he was male. Biceps that huge were not given to women. I felt them, appreciating the firm skin. I slowly moved my hands over him, discovering the furred sides and ridged abdomen. Part of me was tempted to explore further, but embarrassment held me back. I could tell that he was naked though.
Oh god. Was I...?
I managed to tilt my head down enough to see where his beefy leg was wrapped around my much more slender one. And... Yup, I was naked. And unfortunately very aroused. So was he, to my viewing pleasure. His shaft seemed to be expanding out of a furry sheath, glistening and very, very large.
Oh Jesus! I can't believe I was just staring at his cock!
What if he woke up? That would be mortifying. Plus, I had no idea who he was. Obviously he wasn't human, considering the fur covering his sides and genitals.
He wasn't green or scaly in any way, so Oalian was out. Xyghainians were grey, Burbandi weren't bi-pedal, the Frek were tiny, Ederians were white, and the Caoch were...
My memories came flooding in, the morning beating, hiding Chloe and Beckett and waiting for the gov's to show up. Seeing them show up with URNA Marines and three enormously tall, enormously beautiful aliens. One in particular, who had seen me from across a field and had stared at me like he wanted to eat me for dessert. Running away from him and hiding out for the rest of the day. Staring at my reflection in the door.
After that, I couldn't recall a thing. Nothing came to mind that might give me a hint as to how I ended up horizontal with a Caochian male.
Not that I really minded. Laying here, ensconced in his arms, I felt safe. Even though I knew that once he woke up, he'd probably throw me across the room, I felt the safest I had ever felt. I would enjoy it while it lasted.
I snuggled down deeper into his muscled chest, breathing in his earthy scent.
His arms tightened around me again and a calloused hand rubbed across my back. Then, as surely as they had secured me, they were gone. I braced myself for a hit, but instead the body next to me arched gracefully against the bed. He was stretching.
I watched raptly as tawny muscles flexed and tightened, a strained yawn growl hiss type thing coming from his mouth. My eyes followed the musculature of his arms all the way to the claws flexing to and from his knuckles. They were wicked looking, black and razor sharp. They slowly receded back under the skin, barely registering a bump. I waited for them to flex back out, not realizing that the gorgeous alien that I was checking out had stopped moving. Completely.
"Noah? You're awake?" The voice was quiet and reverent, and I allowed myself to look into the eyes of my fantasy. Slanted like a lions, they were the same golden color as my ocean. Also the same color that I had looked into across the field.
I tried to back up, but his arms whipped down from above his head and locked around me as he rolled, bringing me underneath him.
Now the muscles I had admired were a cage.
My breath froze in my chest before bursting out in short frantic rhythm. I needed to get away. No matter how hot this guy was, I was not, I repeat not, letting another arrogant bastard do this to me. But no matter how angry it made me, I couldn't stop the welling panic. The rest of that terrible night came back in a rush, overwhelming me.
I whimpered and pushed frantically against the rock hard chest. Wet tears were leaking down my cheeks, but I couldn't pause to wipe them away. I felt a scream building inside me. He was too strong. I couldn't... I couldn't do this!
"Let me go! Please, I promise I'll do whatever you want, just let me go. Rokhi rokhi, please!" I stopped pushing and just sobbed, waiting for what I knew would happen. Instead I felt a hand brush my forehead, followed by a gentle pressure.
"Shh, Mekikira." The arms softened and the weight on top of me moved away, but the warmth stayed. I opened my eyes and looked to where he was leaning on his side, staring at me. He reached up a hand and wiped under my eyes.
"I'm not going to hurt you, Noah. I know you're extremely confused, but the last thing I want is to hurt you. Is there anything that you want to ask me? I'll answer whatever you want to know." He laid his hand on my cheek for a second before pulling back.