Between a bear and a dark place

Chapter 31

It was a wet coolness that leeched him from his dreamless state. That and the gentle fingering of his hair, a pleasant tugging sensation that reminded Kili of his brother's fingers. It was then the youth realised it was his brother pulling at his hair.

Fili. The word had not been uttered out loud.

Kili struggled against the blind muteness he was trapped in to no avail. At one point his clawed hand was pried from its arrangement, relaxing the appendage despite its owner's inner turmoil. A thumb rubbed over the heated skin of his hand, the pad of the finger firm and soothingly cold.

Eventually Kili gave up in his bid to make himself known, allowing his conscious to float back into the pillows around his head. The young dwarf frowned inwardly at the aching in his arms and chest, yet he supposed the worst of the pain was being held at bay from his current state of awareness, or unawareness. Still, he was aware enough to tell that Fili was tensing beside him, holding in words that were no doubt hammering to get out and into the open air. Whether or not his brother would release them was to be seen.

"You know, I can't remember the last time you were like this."

A hand brushed against Kili's good shoulder, hovering over the bandages on his respective arm. The brunette felt a finger come to rest on his arm at one point, but the slight pressure sent an involuntary shiver through his body. Fili withdrew his hand faster than Kili could notch an arrow in his bow.

"I…I got you this when I was with mother visiting that town," the blonde said, the dwarf speaking as if his brother were awake and lucid. "It reminded me of you, and you broke your own one just before I left. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity."

An object was pressed into the palm of Kili's hand, and if the youth could have smiled he would have. As his brother closed his fingers around the items awkward shape the brunette remembered his frustration at having snapped his comb. He had been using his brother's while Fili had been away, yet he disliked the way the object fit into his hand. The one he was holding now fitted perfectly however, almost as perfectly as his original one. How the comb reminded his brother of him beyond that was a mystery to Kili and would remain one, he decided, until he regained the ability to open his eyes at his own will.

"You're going to need it once you wake up," Fili said above him. "Your hair is a mess, even for you."

A presence hovered over Kili's head before withdrawing, as though it had given a second thought to the action it had been about to perform. Instead the presence drifted back to his hand and the comb within it.

"That isn't why I'm speaking to you though." The tone of Fili's voice was neither filled with emotion or lacking it, rather the feelings within the words were subdued almost to the point of non-existence. There was a long pause, and then the blonde dwarf's voice came again, directed at the floor this time round. "Have you ever said something to someone and regretted it?"

Kili heard his brother laugh.

"What am I saying? You always end up regretting what you say one way or another. You're the reason why we got into so much trouble when we were younger."

The chortling continued for a while longer, eventually fading into nothing. It was not silent for long however, a sigh taking its place in the room.

"It's just so hard to see you like this," Fili continued, words clearly strained. "I feel so helpless not knowing what I can do to help you. It's so….frustrating."

There was another sigh, the breath released with it blowing Kili's hair over his face.

"It's no excuse," Fili said, his voice disheartened. "I know that…but I just don't know what to do. What do I do, Kee? What can I do to make everything alright? I'm lost here, completely lost and I need you to tell me what to do."

A warmth slide beneath Kili's eyelids, invisible from his brother, but all too present for the younger dwarf. A ragged breath slid free of his lips as a bolt of pain flew through his body, pain that had not originated at his trivial wounds. The brunette drew in another breath, the air colliding against his teeth with the same force that held his heart in a twisted grip of agony.

He longed to be able to offer a word of comfort to his brother, or at least a soundless gesture, but again Kili found himself trapped in the leaden cage that was his own body. It was frustrating, for the young dwarf knew Fili was right beside him, yet all he could do was listen helplessly to the almost erratic breathing of the older dwarf.

"I keep hoping you will wake up."

These words were the final blow to Kili, the young dwarf feeling his interior shatter once the last syllable was left hanging in the air. The brunette tried, he did, struggling to show some sign that he was conscious. He knew any sign would do to reassure his brother, any sign at all.

"But it's just wishful thinking," Fili said, his voice now resigned. Again Kili heard the blonde sigh, a hand squeezing his own slightly smaller one, a brown being pressed firmly against his own.

A familiar rumbling voice called his brother's name from the doorway.

Kili's mind drifted through a pleasant state of nothingness for a bit, the muffled voices of two arguing the only sound to pierce through the otherwise blank veil. The ends of his fingers and toes felt numb, the appendages they were attached to heavy as the sheets of metal his uncle manipulated. His head also felt heavy, his eyelids trying to sink into his skull. Overall the brunette felt like he was floating in a sea of softened fabric.

The sensation fled when at the sound of a door closing, giving way to an aching pain that began to pull him under again.

"You'll be okay, lad," a gruff voice said above him, "You'll be okay."


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