the First

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Peter sends boy after boy down the chute, I'm sitting on the couch. Something has him upset, and I can't begin to think of what it could be. Finally, Cubby comes tumbling down onto the pillows, followed by Peter. He looks angry, but he doesn't say a word as he strides to his room and doesn't look back.

Someone taps me on the shoulder, it's Nibs, "Can I check your stitches?"

"Sure." I respond, grateful for the distraction.

He leads me to my room and I take off my boots, laying down on the soft pillows. Nibs rolls up my pant leg, and gently prods my wounds.

"I think I might be able to take them out."

My throat goes dry, "Take them out?"

"Uh huh!" he says brightly, unaware of my complete and utter terror of being tended to by a ten year old.

"It shouldn't hurt," he says, "my grandpa taught me how to stitch, but he never taught me how to remove them…" he trails off.

"You'll be fine, though." he adds.

I do want these things out of my leg, how bad could it hurt?

"Alright. Fine. Let's get it over with."

"I'll be right back." he says, and runs out of the room.

I lay on my bed, slightly panicking. How bad will it hurt? How long will it take? Will he do it wrong? Nibs enters the room again with a small knife, my anxiety level reaches a whole new height.

"We don't have scissors, so this will have to do."

"Okay." I squeak.

I cast my gaze to the ceiling so I don't have to see him work. I feel a tugging sensation as he cuts the knot with the knife. Then he begins to pull. A line of pain arches up my leg, I let out a gasp and bite my tongue to suppress a scream. Tears escape my eyes as he finishes tugging, and the pain disappears.

"That went well!" Nibs says.

Good God. If that's considered well then I don't want to know what bad is. He starts to lightly tug on the next one, cutting it with his knife. He pulls again, I fist the sheets in an attempt to keep myself under control. It hurts so bad! I start to sob, loud enough that he stops right in the middle of pulling it out.

"Don't stop!" I shout louder than is necessary.

He hastily finishes, and I breathe a sigh of relief.

"I'm sorry it hurt." he says.

The bear pelt is smacked aside and a person enters the room.

"What's going on?" Peter demands, clearly still pissed at us for leaving the hideout.

"Nothing," I pant, "we're all fine here."

Even in pain, I can still be sarcastic.

I hear him sigh, "No, you're not."

"Just go away!"

He falls silent, I roll over and bury my face into my pillow. Peter sits down on the side of the bed and pulls my head onto his lap. He starts to softly stroke my hair, grabbing my right hand. Nibs mutters something about going to get some antiseptic cream, and dashes from the room. I'm just trying to catch my breath.

"It's okay." Peter says from above me, still rubbing circles into my shoulder.

Nibs comes back in and gets to work rubbing in his concoction; it burns a little at first, but with it comes soothing relief.

Nibs pats me on the shoulder, "Feel better, Relia. Get lots of rest. I'm sorry I hurt you."

"You didn't." I mumble, feeling groggy. He doesn't need to feel bad, he was helping.

He walks out of my room, leaving me and Peter alone. Peter lays back against the headboard and soft pillows, pulling me up onto his chest. He smells delicious, like a summer day. Bright and comforting. He grabs the comforter and pulls it up around us, covering me in soft warmth. He softly kisses the top of my head, wrapping his arms around me.

"Go to sleep. I'll be here."

I sink into him, allowing sleep to grab me in its clutches and drag me into darkness.

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