Sam rarely left the chair that was sitting beside Chris’ hospital bed, unless he had to use the bathroom, which didn’t take him far as there was a small restroom right there in the room. Jack or Rita would have to pry him up to get him to walk around or eat, which he hated. He hated leaving the room, leaving Sam. He still had work, though, and he could only skip so many days, but even at work his mind was stuck on Chris. Then again, it usually was, but it was different now, because he was awake.
He still couldn’t really believe it. Chris was awake, after three years. They were going to pull the plug, they were so close to letting him slip after hanging on for so damn long. Something woke him up.
Marin explained later that when he looked over Chris’ brain function before he woke up, he noticed a spike, so close to consciousness that he thought he was imagining things, but he took a chance, seeing as he really had nothing to lose, and pumped a high dose of adrenaline straight to Chris’ blood. That’s what woke him up, but it was unclear why his brain function had spiked so suddenly from comotose to near consciousness.
Just thinking about it usually had Sam in tears. It was a miracle, a second chance, and he was determined not to screw up this time. Chris probably noticed, hell, everyone noticed, how close Sam was staying, how protective he was. He’d even gone so far as to glare at Dylan and Kitty if they got a little too close to the scar on Chris’ head. He didn’t want anyone to touch it, to see it, he didn’t even want Chris to look at it or feel it, but he didn’t have a say in that.
They understood, of course, but it could get tiresome when Sam refused to move even an inch. The only time he left the room was when he went with Chris to his physical therapy sessions, and the only time he left the hospital itself was when he had work. Otherwise he was sitting loyally in that chair, arms folded, eyes faraway, a silent and steady guard while Chris was stuck in bed.
His favorite time was when Chris was asleep. It gave Sam a chance to play with his hair like he used to, like he always did, stroking his fingers through the thick red locks so his face was in full view. Even with everything Chris had gone through, three years in a coma, Sam still thought he was gorgeous. True, in reality he kind of looked like shit, his face a greyish color and the skin sinking due to lack of substantial nutrition, but Sam was adament about his eating, so in a few weeks Chris was starting to fill out a bit more, and looked a bit more like himself.
“So I think by now we all know that look,” Sam tensed up, nearly dropping his books as his head whipped to the side to see Izzy standing with that evil cat in her arms, “You’re thinking about your lover, hm?”
Sam hated the blush, but he didn’t bother denying it as he turned to the shelf and started slipping the books into the correct placement, “Shouldn’t you be managing finance or something?”
“Who do I look like to you, Einstein? Sabine is working those books for me. I was helping the new girl, but Cleo popped up and said she’d take over, so now I’m just wandering,” she paused, “Why are you asking me questions, this is my store, I do what I want.”
Sam snorted and turned as he set the last book in its place, eying his boss, “You act like a child.”
“What’s your point?”
“I’m surprised you still own the place. Without Sabine and Amy you’d be bankrupt.”
“That is so mean!” Izzy whined, “I could fire you, you know!”
“You’ve had so many chances for that,” Sam countered, “You’re not gonna fire me, you like me too much.”
“Well, you’re cute, so you bring in customers.”
“This isn’t a host club.”
“Oh, but it could be!” Izzy beamed, “A book host club! I could get everyone to wear maids outfits and cute dresses!”
“Absolutely not,” Amy yelled from somewhere in the store, and Cleo piped in immediately after.
“I’ll wear it! April will too, right?!”
“Wh-what? No, n-no I like jeans,” the new girl stuttered, and Cleo laughed as Sabine screamed.
“Shut up, I’m calculating!”
Sam raised a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. Really, why did he work with these nuts? Chris... Chris might like them, though. The way he was now, he’d definitely get along with Izzy and Cleo. He’d probably get on well with everyone, actually. The thought made him smile as he turned and picked up a stack of books lying on the ground, looking at the names as he spoke.
“Hey Iz... since he’s awake now... maybe I’ll bring him by sometime.”
Izzy stared at Sam, silent for the longest time before strutting up and getting into his face, “Can I watch you guys kiss?”
Sam flushed and gaped at her as Cleo shrieked from a few shelves away, “Oh my actual god I wanna watch you guys make out too!”
“Mm, I’ll bring a camera.”
“You too, Amy?!” Sam shrilled, “Would you all stay in your own conversations?! Never mind, forget it!” he spun away, scowling, “He’d probably hate you all!”
“Bitch please, I’m baller.”
“Shut your face, Cleo!”
Even though Chris had been asleep for three years, he seemed to get tired easily. The soft hospital pillows and the blankets they gave him made it a little harder to stay awake. The only good thing about the room was they finally took out the heart monitor. Marin assured him his condition was stable enough that it wasn’t needed, which probably translated to Chris could go home.
His excitement didn’t keep him awake though, and he fell asleep almost imediatly when the room was empty. When he next woke, he could feel a hand in his hair, fingers stroking across his scalp. It was Sam. Chris would wake up on many occasions, finding Sam sitting beside the bed and playing with his hair, but he would always act like he was still sleeping, because he didn’t want Sam to stop.
That day was no different. He woke up with his body turned onto its side facing Sam, and Sam’s fingers were threading through his red hair. He opened his eyes just slightly, thankful when he found Sam was staring away from his face. As usual, he looked sad, lost, like he didn’t really know what to do with himself, and it had Chris’ heart twisting uncomfortably.
Sam was always frowning, he always looked like this, but Chris was positive that at one point he would smile all the time. He tried to remember it, tried to remember Sam smiling, but he usually ended up with a headache, so he’d sigh and give up. That day, though, something was different. Maybe because he was still sleepy, his mind was shifty, but he remembered something, something about Sam.
“You played football.”
Sam’s caress froze, and his head turned so his eyes could lock with Chris’ half lidded iris’, “Wh... what?”
“Football,” Chris murmured, raising a hand to rub the sleep from his eyes, “I remember highschool, you’d wear a football jersey... I did to. We both played football.”
Sam gaped at Chris for a moment before speaking, “I... I-yea. We both played. We started our freshman year, we wanted to play a sport together.”
“Yea,” Chris nodded, eyes closed, “Soccer is stupid, basketball is stupid... Dylan, Kitty and I would throw a football all the time, so...”
“Yea...,” Sam looked like he was torn between crying and laughing, “Do... you remember what position you played?”
“No,” Chris yawned again and rolled onto his back, “You were quarterback though.”
Sam nodded, “Yea...”
“We’d practice extra, cuz we were freshman. I stole your jersey a lot.”
This time Sam laughed, laying his head against the bed, “You did, all the time. You didn’t like the fact I had a lower number than you, being quarterback and all, so you’d take my jersey and act like me. Try to act like me.”
Chris smiled. He didn’t remember that, but the swell in his chest at the thought told him it was a true fact. He didn’t remember it happening, but he remembered how happy he felt doing it. He remembered thinking how funny it was, how silly Sam looked asking for his shirt back, how frustrated he’d get until he gave in and let Chris keep his shirt.
“Are you awake, sweetie?”
Chris opened his eyes and turned his head as Sam pulled his hand away and Rita walked up, “Yea. I’m sorry for falling asleep.”
“Don’t be, it’s completely normal,” Rita laughed, helping Chris sit up, “Are you still tired? We can skip today if-.”
“No,” Chris shook his head quickly, “No, I don’t want to skip.”
Rita pressed her lips together before nodding, “Alright. At the rate you’re going you’ll probably be able to walk soon, but don’t push yourself,” she smiled at Sam, “Could you help him?”
Sam nodded and stood up as Chris pushed back the blankets. He wrapped an arm around Chris’ shoulders while Chris hooked one behind Sam’s back, biting his lip as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed, his feet setting against the cold ground. With all of his work, he could almost stand on his own, but he still had to rely heavily on Sam as he stood up.
“Easy now,” Rita cautioned, “You can try walking to the therapy room, but I’m bringing your chair in case it gets too much, alright?”
Chris nodded, staring down at his feet. Sam shifted his arm so it was securely around Chris’ waist, keeping him against his side as he started to walk forward slowly. Chris could pick his feet up a little as he walked, a big improvement from shuffling around, but he wouldn’t be jogging or running marathons anytime soon. He had to walk slow to keep from overworking himself. If he did then he’d just collapse, which would probably have Sam losing his mind, and Chris didn’t want to worry him.
So he moved carefully, leaning against Sam. The first time Sam held him close like this he couldn’t stop the aweful blush, but he’d gotten used to it by now. It felt familiar, warm, he liked it. Sam was always so gentle when he was with Chris, his touches, his hugs, always so soft and cautious, like he was terrified he might accidentally break Chris, which wasn’t exactly logical, but Chris never chastised him for it. He liked it too much.
When they reached the therapy room, Rita let Sam walk with Chris. She’d been doing that a lot lately, standing back to observe while Sam was the one to hold Chris by his waist and help him walk. It was astounding how patient he was with Chris. He’d been living the same schedule every day, looking after Chris as he retaught himself how to walk while strengthening his legs, and he always had the same calm expression on his face.
Chris was chewing on his lip, staring down at his feet as he walked, Sam’s hands on his waist to keep him steady when a thought crossed his mind, another memory, searing hot hands on his skin, but not Sam’s. The hands were course, the touch hurt. The unclear memory had him gasping and stumbling, and Sam instantly wound his arms securely around him, holding him against his chest.
“Easy!” he rubbed Chris’ shoulders, “You okay?”
Chris shook his head, “I-I d-d-don’t know.”
Sam frowned seriously and held Chris closer, lifting him so his feet were no longer on the ground and carrying him over to where his wheelchair was, setting him down carefully before kneeling down and squeezing his knees, “What happened?”
Chris stared blankly ahead before looking down at Sam. The sudden ache of fear washed away, and his shoulder stooped, “I... don’t really know. Maybe a dream.”
“Yea. My body was hurting everywhere, but I don’t know why.”
The twisted look on Sam’s face was a pretty grim give away that he knew exactly why, but Chris didn’t push the subject. He didn’t like that memory, and he was hoping it was nothing but a dream anyway, so he just smiled.
“It’s okay, I’m okay now. It was just a dream probably.”
“Dream...,” Sam whispered, his eyes falling, “Good... just a dream.”
“Sam, Chris,” both looked up when they heard their names, and Marin smiled at them, “How are you feeling, Chris?”
“Great!” he looked incredibly pleased, “I have some pretty great news for you.”
Chris’ eyes got wide, “I can go home?”
Marin beamed, “Tomorrow,” Chris gasped and Marin held a hand up, “But! You need to make me a promise. You need to keep working this schedule of therapy, let your mother and Sam help you, don’t push yourself, rest when you’re tired. If I hear you’ve broken any of these rules then I’m dragging you back. Got it?”
Chris just grinned, “Yes, sir!”
He couln’t care less about rules. He was finally getting out of that hospital!