The waiting room was freezing cold. A handful of people were huddled in a corner like Eskimos round a fire, bundled up with heavy jackets and wool shawls. Another couple were hunched over in their chairs, asleep. All were silent, breathing, and barely existing.
A trembling mass of fabric was curled up on one of the seats. It was sniffling and a red nose tip poked out of one of the folds. Suddenly, the whole bundle shot up. The blushing nose tip was now accompanied by rosy cheeks and red rimmed eyes.
(Name) coughed into the sleeve of her oversized, tan army overcoat. The sound jerked the man a row before her awake and he glared at her before turning away. She sunk into the warmth of the coat. Her feet marched her through the row where her seat was, over and over. Every step was echoed by the soft squeak of her boots and her coughs.
"Will you please sit?" the man she'd awoken grumbled.
She mumbled an apology and reclaimed her seat. Bouncing her leg, her gaze flickered between the double doors of the ER and the barren nurses' desk. If she saw any sign of movement, she'd lock onto that spot. When she was assured that it wasn't anything important, (Name) would bite her bottom lip and look away.
The air in the waiting room was stale with sickness and bitter with worry. Every breath made her ever more nauseous. Burying her nose into the collar of the coat, (Name) inhaled its scent for comfort. It smelled of sweet men's cologne and pizza; it smelled of him. She felt her eyes sting and burrowed further into the overcoat.
"Miss? Miss (Last Name)?"
(Name)'s head snapped up. A nurse at the desk with light brown hair and bright, green eyes waved at her and she rushed over. Heart pounding and racking her bones, she leant onto the desk for support. Her legs were shaking dangerously. When she spared a fleeting glance at the nurse's name tag, she noticed her name was Elizabeta.
"He's not great," Elizabeta said before she could open her mouth, "but he'll be okay."
Her knees gave out as she sobbed in relief. Elizabeta helped her up and rubbed her back soothingly. (Name) felt her heart flutter. Everything would be fine; he'd be back on his feet in no time. She wiped her eyes and felt a smile tug gently at her lips.
"Follow me," Elizabeta ushered.
She guided her through more halls than (Name) could care to count. Her legs were wobbly again and she couldn't stop crying, but she was relieved. If anything, she was nearly walking on air. However, when they stopped in front of a door, reality dragged her back to Earth. Thankfully, her tears had stayed with the clouds, waiting for a chance to rain back down.
"If anything weird happens, press the pager button," Elizabeta explained. "And I do mean anything."
Swallowing heavily, (Name) nodded and pushed the door open. The sterile smell still lingered in the air, along with a hint of acrid cleaning chemicals. Everything was white: the ceiling, the walls, the linoleum floors, and the thin sheets that were draped over the young man on the bed. They made his tanned skin look paler than she thought possible and highlighted a few bruises on his face. He looked terribly fragile for a five foot seven, hot-tempered soldier.
"Lovino," (Name) whispered as she cradled the hand with the IV drip.
Images of a bare street frosted over with slick ice and slush flashed in her mind. She felt herself enter her memory and laugh. A light chuckle joined her giggles as she began to cross. An arm was loosely wrapped around her waist and warm breath was misting her neck and frozen ears. Suddenly, she heard a tire screech. The arm cradling her tightened and she was flung back to the sidewalk. Peridot green glittered sadly and; was that fear? -, before they were replaced by dark blue.
Bile rose up in her throat at the memory of a broken man lying motionless on the street and a screeching, midnight blue sports car speeding away. Lovino's hit and run had been hours ago. Now he lay black and blue in a hospital bed with a breathing mask on his face and blissfully unconscious.
(Name) brushed his sienna bangs away from his closed eyes carefully avoiding the curl and murmured, "Grazie
But it should've been me."
She kissed his forehead. It was comfortingly warm and she could've sworn she felt his hand twitch. Pulling back, she inspected him for any signs of awakening. His eyes remained closed, his body still as ever. With a heavy sigh, (Name) wiped her eyes and made to walk away, but couldn't. Lovino had her hand in a tight grip.
(Name) recognized the deep baritone immediately and turned to face him. Those gorgeous, peridot green orbs remained shut, but his cheeks had regained a bit of their color. His nose was slightly scrunched and he shook his head slightly, dislocating the mask a bit. With a giggle, she slipped it off.
been through-a worse
before," he rasped. "You-a
on the other hand
can't-a get hurt
"Oh, but you can?"
keeps you-a safe
She choked on air when he managed a smile. It was so miniscule; she nearly had to squint to see it. She felt a tear roll down her cheek and saw it land on his hand. If anything, his smile got slightly wider.
for a bit..."
(Name) sat back down on the edge of the bed and swallowed her tears. Lovino gave her hand a light squeeze. She looked up to see his eyes half lidded and an even bigger grin on his lips. He shyly tugged on her wrist and averted his eyes. (Name) glanced dryly at him before leaning over and giving him a soft butterfly kiss.
inside pocket," he whispered. "Take a look
at a Valentine's
slash-a early birthday present
Following his instructions, (Name) pulled out a small, platinum box from the pocket. Gulping, she felt her cheeks heat up. Heart pounding, she opened it, finding a golden ring with three tiny diamonds embedded in it, shaped like the heart he'd once said belonged to her.
broken-a man for
for a soul mate
"No," she choked. "Oh good God, no!"
fight-a me for
a dual purpose present
With a bashful smile and red cheeks, he murmured, "Bene
put it on?"
She put the ring in his hand and he slipped it on her left ring finger. Then, he shakily brought her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers, knuckles, and ring. For the third time today, (Name) felt the hot droplets escape her eyes.
to save-a them," he teased.
"Stupido," she retorted. "It took a hit and run to get your courage up?"
Shaking his head, he said, "No
of-a learning to-a love-a you
a split-a second decision
to confirm-a you were-a my one
e a silver ring
encrusted with-a tears
to-a seal the deal-a
(Name) felt a matching grin blossom on her face as warmth flooded her body. It started from the hand he'd kissed. Then it spread up her arm, up to her head, and down to her toes. The stale hospital air wasn't so nauseating or cold anymore, either. And as she lay down next to him, she realized she'd never felt warmer. Not even the sweet memory of their first kiss or their first 'I love you's could match up to this.
Curling up into his side, she murmured, "I love you."
An arm cradled her gently and gave her a tight, one armed embrace. A thumb rubbed soothing circles on her hip, lulling her to sleep. She yawned and heard the rumbling inside his chest as he chuckled. It was halted by a long yawn of his own.
"Ti amo troppo," she heard him mutter drowsily. "Felice San Valentino e compleanno, tesoro."