Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

I'm Here

That night, Tim is lying on the floor, in Josiah's room, on top of his sleeping bag. He is feeling too hot to lie inside the cotton bag, even though he knows that it is winter. Maybe he has a fever or something. He wouldn't care.

The horrible fear he felt that afternoon has left an echo, which is maybe even worse. He remembers the look in Josiah's eyes after he said "Good times".

He didn't look scared.

He looked so calm that it ripped Tim's heart apart, as if the other boy didn't mind dying.

He also remembers how Clint had rushed into the room, pushed Tim away and started to do mouth to mouth resuscitation. Josiah's heart had started beating again after a half minute, but it was the worst half minute of Tim's entire life – at least, the part of his life that he could remember.

He is happy that Josiah is still alive - of course he is happy -, but he knows that he'll have to feel that fear again sometime, and it frightens him. He doesn't know what he'd do if Josiah's heart stops beating again, and if it doesn't start anymore. He'd probably throw himself off the Cliff.

The quiet rustling of bed sheets gently pulls him out of his thoughts.

Then a voice.

"Tim?"

Tim shoots upright, scared that Josiah will stop breathing again, but there is something in his voice that calms him.

"I'm here, Josiah," Tim replies, standing up so that Josiah can see him. It is dark; Tim puts the lamp on the nightstand on. He blinks against the sudden warm, yellow light before he looks at Josiah.

The injured boy looks quite normal, now. His pupils aren't that big, anymore, and he looks at Tim with a slight smile on his lips.

"Hey," Tim whispers. "You're awake."

He doesn't dare to say that he is scared that Josiah is going to die.

The dark-haired boy nods, but his face immediately twists in pain.

"I'm fine, I'm fine," he says when Tim rushes forward. "I'll always be fine as long as you're with me."

Tim feels his mouth drop open.

What? his brain screams, and that is exactly what he says.

"What?"

Josiah breathes in deeply, and a fear flows through Tim's body, but Josiah doesn't seem to be in pain.

"I never wanted you to leave," the dark-haired boy quietly explains. "I'm still in love with you. I'm glad that you're here, but... why are you here? I thought that you didn't want me, anymore."

Tim swallows difficultly and pinches his arm to see if he is dreaming. No, he isn't.

"Josiah, I'll always want you," he then says, his voice quiet. "I promise that I won't leave you again. I don't care what the other Gladers think of us. I'll stay with you. Always. At least, if that's what you want."

It is one of the truest things he has ever said in his life.

Josiah smiles carefully. "If you stay with me," he says, a glimpse of his usual sense of humour back in his voice, "then I'll try not to die. Deal?"

Tim grins back. "Deal."

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