It was no surprise that Lynus was given the best private room in the hospital. One that was in a quiet wing, where there was little foot traffic so the occupant inside could have the peace necessary to sleep and recuperate. But it was also in an area close to the nurse’s station in case of any unforeseen drama or complications.
It was also thankfully big enough for a pull out cot to be set up, allowing for Axel to rest upon so he didn’t need to leave. Not that he would have. Even without the cot, he would have just slept in a chair. Even if sleep felt unlikely at this point in time.
After ensuring that Lynus was lying comfortably upon the bed, Axel grabbed a chair and immediately pulled in close to him. And for the first time in what felt like hours, he sat down.
“I want you to try to get some rest,” Dr Stiles sat as he stood on the other side of the bed, his hand lying flat against Lynus’ forehead even though his gaze was strictly upon Axel. “The wound on your back has completely healed, but it takes time for you to regain the blood you’ve lost.”
Axel abruptly realised that he was still dressed in his bloodied and torn clothes and winced. He made no attempt to stand up, however, and just nodded his head idly. “I’m not going anywhere until he wakes us, so this is as restful as I’m going to be.”
Dr Stiles didn’t look even remotely surprised by his response. “Ah, fair enough,” he said as he pulled his hand back from Lynus’ forehead and motioned toward a door in the corner of the room. “There’s an attached bathroom so you won’t have to wander too far.” He smiled suddenly and took a few steps away from the bed. “At least you won’t be alone.”
Axel was a little perplexed by his last sentence. But then he heard the sound of hurried footsteps outside and he immediately understood. And felt a small smile slip across his lips.
In a flurry of movement and the chatter of concerned voices, the room was suddenly filled with the rest of the Guardian Guild. Half of them immediately huddled around the bed while the other half asked Dr Stiles questions. Questions about Lynus and his health. Axel was sure that Hamza would have reassured them before he did anything else, but they wanted and needed extra reassurance.
They were making a lot of noise. But it was ok. This kind of noise…was good. It was comforting. And even though Lynus was unconscious, he was certain that their presence was reassuring to him in his dreams.
Axel was pulled from his observations and thoughts when Magnus moved to stand next to him. And he was clutching something against his chest.
“H-here,” Magnus said as he indicated to what appeared to be a bundle of clothing in his arms. “We brought you a change of clothes.”
“Ah, thanks,” Axel said as he retrieved the clothes from him and gave the blond alchemist a small smile.
He should probably make the attempt to get changed. Tidy himself up a bit and be somewhat presentable. He didn’t want to alarm Lynus when he awoke later. He was sure that seeing him dressed in a pair of blood-free and not brutally torn clothing would reassure his guildmates, too.
Still, it was difficult for him to take to his feet and head to the small bathroom of the room. But he did so. On autopilot to be perfectly honest. But it was still enough to busy himself, especially his mind. Removing his old, dirty clothing and putting on his new ones. A splash of cold water on the face also helped.
He left the old clothes on a chair in the bathroom, though, deciding to deal with them later. He walked silently out of the bathroom, comforted by the sight of his guild (minus Hamza as he was busy elsewhere) as they quietly talked amongst themselves.
He then sat on the edge of his temporary bed, rested his elbows on his legs and felt his shoulders sag in exhaustion. It suddenly hit him how…worn out he felt. It wasn’t physical fatigue, but mental and emotional.
Jhon lingered next to him and gently placed his hand on his shoulder. “Are you all right?” he asked him softly.
Something inside of Axel broke at that question. He couldn’t pretend anymore. He couldn’t lie and say he was fine. He didn’t have the strength to do that anymore.
So he dropped his head into his hands. “…No.”
Jhon was immediately by his side on the bed and his arm was wrapped firmly across his shoulders. Axel’s breath hitched in his throat when he heard the sound of shoes on the hard floor.
“Macerio, Lirit, come on,” Tobyn said quietly, yet urgently. “We’re going to find Axel some food.”
“But-” Macerio started to protest but was cut off by Lirit.
“Yes, we’ll help.”
“Magnus. Let us help, too.”
“Chi-hung, come. Let’s see if we can find Hamza.”
There was the sound of feet hurriedly shuffling across the floor, followed by the sound of the door opening and closing. And then there was silence.
He was…relieved to be alone.
It wasn’t as if he was ashamed to break down in front of the others. He didn’t want to because they had been terrified enough as he was. With the curses and the monsters, and Lynus sprouting wings before coughing up blood and fainting; they’ve been through enough. Axel didn’t want to add further to that.
But he also couldn’t hold back his own fears either.
“Talk to me,” Jhon urged as he tugged him toward him.
Axel turned and just slumped against Jhon, his head still in his hands as tears pooled along his lower lashes. “That scared the shit out of me. I thought I’d lose him for good that time.”
Jhon sighed and rubbed comforting circles on Axel’s back. “It scared the hell out of us all.”
Axel dropped his hands from his head and allowed Jhon to pull him into a comforting hug. Keeping an arm around his shoulders, he used his other hand to press Axel’s head against his shoulder.
“He keeps pushing himself for the sake of others,” Axel murmured, his voice sounding weak and tired. It was shocking, even for him. “And I’ve stood by because it’s what Lynus wants. But I don’t think I can anymore.”
“I know,” Jhon said in return, his voice also low and soft. Tired even. “We all feel the same. This can’t happen again. It won’t happen again. We’ll all work together to ensure that this never, ever happens again.”
Yeah…That was right. Axel wasn’t the only one constantly watching over Lynus. The whole guild was. They were watching over each other. And Lynus was still with them. Dr Stiles assured him and reassured him that he was just exhausted. He wasn’t going to disappear on him again. Not again. No one would allow that to happen.
“You should try to get some rest now,” Jhon said as he continued to comfort him. “We’re all in this together.”
Those words were enough for Axel to close his eyes and finally fall asleep, against Jhon’s shoulder and under the watchful eye of his guild.
… … … … …
Hamza walked through the hospital corridors with purposeful strides and a stoic expression on his face. He had returned from attempting to speak with those rogue hexer students, but it was a fruitless venture. They weren’t in the best of shape to be interrogated. Somewhat satisfying, and yet still very frustrating.
Never mind them for now. He had been reassured that they weren’t going anywhere. They had occupied his thoughts for long enough. He had more pressing matters to attend to.
The moment that Hamza was close enough to the door leading to Derek’s office, he knocked. After receiving a terse “enter” from the other side, he promptly opened the door and stepped inside. He paused only to shut the door tightly behind him, to ensure that no unwanted ears overheard this conversation.
“You’ve been doing some research, I hear. Anything of note?”
Sat at his desk that was covered with more books and files than usual, Derek lifted his head up to regard Hamza with a sharp nod. He then dove straight into his findings. “From what I can deduce, some of what Mahogany makes sense. The power that Lynus showed was an ancient skill that only medics of the highest calibre can wield. It’s known by two names; Healing Touch and Medical Miracle. Not much is known, I’m afraid. But it’s not life threatening.”
That was certainly reassuring to hear.
Derek then sighed and shook his head. “To think that he was able to heal everyone all at once by sheer willpower alone…”
Lynus was meek and docile in many ways; however his desire to heal was certainly anything but.
Hamza nodded his head and folded his arms across his chest. “The coughing of blood?”
“That was the result of the severe exhaustion,” Derek answered quickly as he slapped his hands atop of his desk and pushed himself to his feet, he himself clearly on the brink of exhaustion. “Not the result of the healing.”
“So, he’s going to be all right?” He had been reassured that many times before, but he still needed to hear it again.
“Yes,” Derek replied, not tersely but firmly, resolutely. “There shouldn’t be any ongoing medical issues with him. Other than his inability to care for himself, that is.”
“Hm.” A half smile appeared on Hamza’s lips. “I get the feeling you’re hoping to rectify that.”
“Oh, I plan on it.”
Funny, that almost sounded threatening.
“For now, I’m going to check in on him,” Derek said as he moved from behind his desk and toward the door. “A lot of people are worried about him, you know?”
A lot was probably somewhat of an understatement.
“Yes, I know,” Hamza said instead as he moved to follow Derek out of his office.
As he stepped through the door, though, he was surprised and subtly alarmed to find that Cedric appeared to be waiting for him. With Chi-hung at his feet.
“Is something wrong?” he asked as he stopped in front of the two, his hands instinctively reaching out to rest against Cedric’s sides.
Cedric, however, smiled and shook his head as he rested his hands against Hamza’s chest. “No, it’s been dealt with now.”
Hamza was momentarily confused, not immediately understanding what he meant. But it soon dawned upon him and he protectively tugged Cedric toward him. “…Axel?”
“He’s fine,” Cedric said as he slipped his hands toward Hamza’s shoulders. “Jhon’s with him. But…let us all go now.”
Yes. The guild needed to be together. Just them. Just for a little while.
… … … … …
Lynus felt so…heavy. His head ached. His body ached. He felt sore and just so exhausted. It was an unfortunately familiar feeling. He had felt this before. Overwork and exhaustion. He just…couldn’t remember why he felt so tired.
A familiar voice calling his name softly in a tone that was both questioning and pleading prompted Lynus to find the strength to open his eyes. They felt as heavy as the rest of him, and it was genuine struggle to keep them open.
But despite the urge to simply close his eyes and go back to sleep, he kept them open long enough for him to recognise two figures leaning over him. To his right was Axel and to his left was Dr Stiles. He could only see blurred outlines of them at first. His vision soon started to clear, thankfully, and he realised that they were both leaning over him with expressions nearly identical. Expressions that were a mixture of worry and relief.
Did he…faint again?
“Axel…?” Lynus attempted to speak, but it came out as a short, weak murmur.
“Hey,” Axel responded, his voice thick and a smile of relief on his lips. “How are you feeling?”
“Where am I?”
“You’re in the hospital,” Dr Stiles was the one to answer.
“The hospital? Why?” Lynus murmured and furrowed his brow in pure confusion. However, it all soon came flooding back. The images of everyone struggling with their curses. The image of Axel surrounded by FOEs and…
Blood pouring from a deep wound on his back.
His eyes grew frantically wide and he immediately attempt to sit up. “T-the hexers!”
“Easy!” Dr Stiles said, but Lynus barely heard him.
Instead he reached out toward Axel, to cup his face in his hands and look him in the eyes. “You’re ok? Are you ok? Everyone ok?”
Axel immediately placed his hands atop of Lynus’ and leaned forward so that his forehead was touching his. And allowed for him to look deeply into his eyes. “I’m fine. We’re all fine. Thanks to you.”
That…surprised Lynus immensely and he felt his brow furrow once more in confusion. “Me?” he uttered before a wave of light-headedness and discomfort washed over him and he slumped forward.
Axel’s arms immediately caught him and he felt Dr Stiles also instinctively reach out to grab him. He felt boneless and weak as the two guided him to lie back down onto the bed.
“Hng,” he uttered in discomfort as he sunk against the pillow. “What-?”
“Easy now,” Dr Stiles said again as he pressed a hand to his forehead. “Take slow breathes. Do you remember what happened?”
Lynus squeezed his eyes shut tightly. “Everyone was…cursed,” he swallowed thickly as the images replayed in his mind once more. “And Axel…he was surrounded by FOEs and bound to the spot. A hexer…approached me. He taunted me.”
“What happened after that?” Dr Stiles pressed. “Do you remember healing?”
Healing? He…remembered the desire to heal.
“I don’t…know,” Lynus replied honestly as he opened his eyes and lolled his head to the side to look up at Dr Stiles. “I just wanted to heal everyone. That was my only thought. I could sense everyone’s pain and discomfort and all I wanted to do was to stop it. And…that’s my final thought before everything went…fuzzy. Like I was falling asleep. I…felt something on my back though.”
Unexpectedly, Dr Stiles and Axel shared a troubled look before they turned their gazes back down to him. “Your back?”
Lynus nodded his head. “Yes. Just…felt as if there was something there.” He couldn’t explain anything more than that, though. He tried to think back on it, on that moment before everything when black but he honestly couldn’t recall anything. Only the desire, the desperate need to heal everyone.
Did he…manage to do that?
“Sorry, I’m feeling a little dizzy at the moment.”
“No, it’s completely fine,” Dr Stiles said comfortingly. “We’ll talk about it later. After you get some rest. Something you need a lot of.”
Dr Stiles’ tone was parental, something Lynus had heard many times before. And yet it felt different this time. He sounded truly worried. He sounded as if he had been truly…frightened by something. Both he and Axel.
“You’re withholding something,” Lynus said toward the both of them. “I can sense it. What happened?”
Once more, and unnervingly so, Axel and Dr Stiles shared another concerned look.
“Lynus,” Dr Stiles said as he subconsciously leaned in closer, as if he was about to reveal something extremely important. “From what I can deduce, you used a highly powerful skill known as a Force Break. It is a skill that not many can ever accomplish in their lifetimes. And the skill you used, one that only medics can ever hope to achieve is called Healing Touch.”
Lynus blinked up at him in shock for a moment. “Healing Touch?”
Dr Stiles nodded his head before he continued. “Yes. It is different for each person. For example; for one their perception increases to a speed that makes it appear as if time has crawled to a stop. A critical skill for those who conduct life-saving surgery. You, on the other hand, appear to have a slightly…different ability. Your will and spirit. You healed everyone within the vicinity of their ailments; binds, status, injuries on all spectrums. All at once. Without having to touch any of them.”
Lynus sunk back onto the bed and closed his eyes. He was…able to heal everyone at once? Heal their injuries, binds, and ailments all at once? That was what he had wanted, what he had desired. He managed to do that?
He was…able to save everyone. Oh, thank god. He…they were safe. He didn’t understand a thing about this Healing Touch. It didn’t matter. Not at this very moment. Everyone was safe. That was all that he cared about. He could sleep easier now.
Lynus reopened his eyes and turned his head slightly to look up at Axel once more. “What happened with those hexers?”
“We managed to arrest four of them,” Axel answered with a frown to his lips as he gently cradled Lynus’ hand in his. “Unfortunately two did manage to get away. We severely doubt they’ll have the guts to return after…what happened.”
There was a slight hesitation in Axel’s voice. Did something else happen? Something to leave him worried and unnerved?
“There’s something else, isn’t there?”
Axel didn’t answer immediately. Instead he shared yet another brief glance with Dr Stiles once more as he idly traced patterns to the back of Lynus’ hand. He finally sighed. “When you were using your ability…a pair of wings appeared from your back.”
Lynus furrowed his brow, not entirely sure he had heard him right. “What? Wings?”
“Yeah,” Axel said as he locked his gaze with his to show to him that he was being honest. “They…looked like that of angel wings. That’s what the others have called them.”
“That…” Lynus whispered in disbelief. “That can’t be possible.”
Axel gave him a small smile as he reached out to curl a strand of his hair around his finger. “It’s true. Everyone from the guild saw them.”
“What? W-what does that mean?” Lynus stuttered as he tried to sit up.
Axel immediately wrapped an arm around his shoulders to support him while Dr Stiles placed a hand on his shoulder to still him, and to make him turn his attention directly to him.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” he said firmly. “Mahogany deduced that they were simply a representation of your aura. Of your spiritual healing abilities. It is nothing to be worried about. Right now, the only concern we have about your health is your acute but severe exhaustion. Not much of a surprise, to be honest. With all the previous healing to add on top of using a force skill; you are truly exhausted.”
It took Lynus a moment or two to allow the information that Dr Stiles just told him to sink in. When it did he sighed and rested his head against Axel’s shoulder.
Exhaustion sounded about right. Perhaps an extreme case of it. He had been working rather tirelessly the last few days. He could accept that. It felt right to him as well. Sure, he still wasn’t entirely adept at inspecting himself for his own health and wellbeing, but he knew enough to know when he was exhausted.
The one thing that was wholly confusing was the mentioning of wings. And…For some inexplicable reason he didn’t feel concerned about that, about how he had sprouted wings. Wings of all things. It was just…his aura, wasn’t it? Due in part by that force skill he used. That sounded plausible, too. It was confusing as to why such a thing happened and he did wonder if Kerri had somehow foreseen the appearance of his wings when she spoke with him the other day. Perhaps he could speak with Mahogany about it later.
It was all very…baffling. He wasn’t concerned or upset, just confused.
God…all this information was just so overwhelming at the moment.
“How are you feeling?” Axel asked him attentively once again, pulling him from his thoughts.
Lynus closed his eyes and touched his forehead with his free hand. “I…I just feel tired and achy. But that’s part of the exhaustion, isn’t it?”
“Do you feel anything else?”
“A little lightheaded,” Lynus answered honestly as he dropped his hand from his forehead and sighed. “Nothing extreme, though. I’ve honestly felt worse.”
“Try not to think too much about it,” Dr Stiles said as he gently placed his hand upon Lynus’ shoulder, prompting him to lift his head to look over at him once more. “You’re here. Your guild is here. Four of the six hexers have been arrested. After seeing that, I doubt they are willing to return any time soon. We can assume that this epidemic is over. Now, it’s time to rest. Your time to rest. I will leave you in Axel’s capable hands. And tomorrow your guild will return and they will fuss. And you will sit there and relish in all of their fussing, do you understand?”
Lynus chuckled tiredly but nodded his head. “Yes, I understand.”
The others were sure to be worried. Very much so. Especially after that dramatic display.
As Dr Stiles turned to leave the room, Axel urged Lynus to lie back down upon the bed. He was actually thankful for that as his head was starting to spin just a little bit more than he was used to. And he was thankful, once again, for Axel’s unconditionally strong and gentle arms around him.
“You all right?” Axel asked him (a question that he would no doubt ask him abundantly in the future) as he sat himself upon a chair pulled as close as possible to his bed.
Lynus sunk against the mattress and pillows and sighed. “I just…” he murmured as he reached up to press a palm to his forehead. “I just find it hard to imagine why I would, well, literally sprout wings. Wings, of all things. But they must have been part of my aura, for some reason. Kerri made a strange comment to me the other day. About how she could see them clearly now.”
He found himself uttering another sigh and let his arm flop back down onto the bed next to him. “I don’t know what to think.”
He honestly felt too lightheaded to think too deeply right now.
“I’m just glad you’re ok now,” Axel said as he gently stroked the side of Lynus’ face.
Lynus lolled his head to the side to look at his beloved. “I’m glad that you’re ok. But did you see them? The wings?”
“What did you think of them?”
Axel managed to force a smile to his lips. “Honestly? They suited you,” he joked lightly before his face unexpectedly crumbled into a tired and subtly frightened expression. “I was worried though. That you would disappear on me again…”
Axel’s voice cracked as he trailed off and Lynus’ heart broke. He tried to keep a brave face for his sake. He tried to be encouraging and supportive of everything he did, even though he was terrified of something happening to him.
Lynus ignored his weariness and pushed himself to sit up. He reached out to Axel, to wrap his arms around his neck. And Axel reached for him, too. Taking him into his arms, which held him so tightly as he buried his face into the crook of Lynus’ neck.
“I’m sorry,” Lynus whispered as he threaded his fingers through Axel’s hair as he gripped the back of his shirt with his other hand. “I keep worrying you. You’re upset. I’m so sorry.”
“You scared the hell out of me,” Axel murmured against his neck. “I don’t want you to do anything like that again. I won’t stand by and watch as you push yourself to your limit again. I can’t…”
Lynus felt tears pool along his lashes when he realised that Axel, too, was crying. Ever so softly, but he could feel his heated tears against his neck. God he loved this man so much. And he loved him so much in return.
“I’m sorry. I really am. I’ll make it up to you.”
He didn’t mean to scare him like that. But…he was scared too. Seeing him, seeing his Axel injured, surrounded by monsters, unable to move. No, he couldn’t stand it. He had to do something.
And he did do something. He was able to use his healing abilities to help him, save him. Him along with everyone important to him. And if he had to relive that event again he would do the exact same thing. He would do whatever it took to heal everyone. To keep them alive.
He would also do what was needed to keep himself alive.
They continued to simply hold each other for the longest time. Lynus running his fingers through Axel’s hair as cradled the back of his head and held him tightly. Slowly, they both grew fatigued.
Unwilling to be apart, Axel slipped onto the bed next to Lynus and feeling him next to him had an immediate comforting effect on Lynus.
With Axel lying on the bed next to him and his arms around him to cradle him against his chest, Lynus felt comforted and content. His weariness returned to him but he knew that with Axel with him once more he’d be able to sleep far more peacefully.
The danger was over. Everyone was fine. Everyone was safe. He could truly rest now.
“A part of me is…relieved, though, in a way,” Lynus murmured as his hands gripped the front of Axel’s shirt, his eyes slipping close as Axel placed a soft kiss to his hair. “That I was able to cure everyone all at once and so quickly. And if I ever find myself, ourselves in a situation like that again, I know I will be able to heal everyone.”
“What about you?” Axel asked in return, his lips brushing against his forehead.
Lynus opened his eyes half way, his gaze immediately falling upon the garnet ring that sat so perfectly on his finger. “…I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “But…it’ll be ok. I don’t think we’ll be encountering too many situations that will call for me to do that again, am I right?”
Axel gave a very subtle bristle of protectiveness. “Not if I can help it.”
Lynus chuckled tiredly as he tilted his head back and took Axel’s face in his hands. He gazed lovingly into his eyes. “I’ll be ok, Axel. I promise.”
He then leaned forward and kissed him softly on the lips. Axel’s arms immediately tighten around him and he gently deepened the kiss. Lynus uttered a soft sigh and let himself become complete lost in both Axel’s arms and his gentle caress.