Aaron could feel himself floating. His body felt heavy, numb. It took a conscious effort for him to focus his mind. He could feel the dark presence of the curse floating around him, enveloping him like a black fog.
A memory of the dream he’d had after blacking out during his fight with Van surfaced in his mind. He remembered a similar feeling to what he felt now. Somehow he could tell that this was different though. He hadn’t dropped any of his mental barriers during the fight when he let the curse take over… was this something new… something different. He could tell there was something different, but he couldn’t pinpoint what.
The sound started to come to him then. Aaron twitched his head at the sound, trying to move to hear it better. It was as if the sound was far off, at a distance, muffled.
Crying? Someone’s crying? he thought to himself.
He couldn’t think of any reason anyone should be crying. He tried to move toward the sound, but his numb body wouldn’t respond to his commands.
Trying a different tactic, he focused his mind, honing on the sound. Steadily it became clearer and he found he could suddenly feel something. He was lying on something hard, there was something under his head propping it up.
Prying his eyes, open, he watched as the wooden ceiling above him swam, slowly coming into focus. Turning his head gingerly, he focused his gaze on the noise. Sitting against the wall next to the door, holding her knees, her head buried in her arms was Grace.
She was crying softly, unaware of his gaze.
“Don’t cry for me just yet,” he called out quietly, his voice barely a croak.
Her head whipped up in surprise. He saw her eyes were red. She must have been crying a while.
A small smile came to her face and she looked relived. Wiping at her tears with a sleeve she sniffled and said, “You’re awake.”
“How long was I out?” asked Aaron smiling back at her as best he could. Half his body was numb, the other half itched terribly for some reason.
“It’s been three days. I didn’t think you were going to wake up.”
He let his head roll back so he was looking up at the ceiling again. Three days. He blew out a breath. “I’m sorry I worried your like that.” He looked back over to her.
She shook her head and sniffled again. “No! No! I’m just happy you’re awake.”
“Yes. We’ve been in the city’s wake since we took off.”
Aaron blew out another breath. At least they were safe. And Grace was here too. He was glad she was safe. His brow furrowed in thought as something came to mind.
“Why?” he asked. “Why did you stay with me when…?”
Grace looked at him for a moment, hesitant to speak. “…when I have someone back…”
Aaron nodded as best he could.
Grace looked away not speaking for a moment. Aaron watched her reaction as she worked through her emotions.
“We… broke up after you left without saying anything. I was too worried about what had happened to you and he… I didn’t consider his feelings at the time.”
She looked like she was going to start to cry again, her eyes were tearing up.
Aaron forced his way through the numbness of his body and lifted his hand. She saw his motion and leap forward on her knees, catching his hand in hers. Forcing his muscles to cooperate he pulled her toward him. She didn’t resist as he pulled her into the crook of his arm next to him on the floor.
He realized then that he was lying on the floor of his bunk room. His hammock had been laid out on the floor under him and his pillow as under his head.
They must have moved me here after I passed out on the deck up above.
He could feel her quiet sobs as he cried, clinging to him. He held onto her as best he could with his numb muscles. He was quite though. She’d been through a lot and needed this. He knew how she felt, but he’d lost his ability to shed tears a long time ago.