There is hot soup on the nightstand, beading at the lips with perspiration. Even beneath the heap of blankets, I am cold and Damien's body beside me is a welcome presence. I cannot remember much of the night, except that I woke up many times sobbing in pain. A few nightmares had also woven their way into my unconsciousness, but none so vivid as the first. Damien had been there each time I'd woken up, cradling my skull and petting my back.

I assume it must be near midday because a bleak sun is making an appearance beyond the insistent grey clouds. I can still hear rumbling thunder and it is raining outside. Damien jolts my attention back to him with a sharp nudge. I squirm and slowly sit up, realizing belatedly he must have found Archie when the soft bear rolls out of my lap. I snatch him back and cuddle him against my chest, rubbing my heated cheek against his fur. Damien laughs a little and the noise surprises me out of my cuddling.

I blink up at him, waiting to see what will happen next.

He stretches a little, working a few hard cracking noises out of his shoulders and neck. The book he had been reading returns to the nightstand, traded out for the bowl of soup. He lifts a spoonful to my mouth, but I narrow my eyes.

"It's not poison," he offers, so casually that I actually consider there might be poison in it.

"I don't want to go to sleep again." I whisper.

He frowns. "You mean sedatives?"

I nod jerkily, holding Archie close against my naked chest.

He sighs. "I'm not gonna drug you, Doll. It's just soup, promise."

His voice seems too tired to contain a real lie so I lean forward and take a tentative sip from the spoon. It is plain chicken broth and I am grateful because I don't want to be throwing up anything painful like last time.

I glare. "This is your fault, you know." I say.

He arches a dark brow. "How do you figure that baby?"

"You gave me those sweets... and then I got sick! I hate you." I mumble petulantly.

He sighs. "You were actually more pleasant when you were unconscious, you know that? It's not my fault nobody else cares enough to give you candy. I didn't make you sick, you did."

I wince and realize he is right. I gulp the next spoonful of soup without a word. The process continues for a while until I shake my head and crawl back under the sheets. My belly feels distended and swollen, even though it hardly curves in reality. I don't think I have eaten in a while because my stomach feels terrible even after only a small cup of soup.

He lays down beside me and strokes a few errant hairs from my forehead. I shut my eyes and make an ugly groaning noise. He laughs again, and I am amazed by the occurrence, twice in one day!

"You know," I mumble, rolling onto my back and staring up at the blank ceiling. "If you wanted to kill me, now would probably be the most painful time."

He snorts and rolls onto an elbow. He leans over me, obscuring my vision and looking straight into my eyes.

"Go to sleep Doll," he says.

I narrow my eyes and try to knee him in between the legs. I miss and get his hip instead, but he still glares.

"Don't call me that." I say.

"Call you what?" he asks.

"Doll." I reply. "Or Baby, or any of those other names."

He pauses for a moment above me, and then very slowly, eyes still trained on mine, lowers his lips to brush against my chaffed and feverish ones. The pressure is light but lingering and when he pulls away, I can still feel a light stinging threading through my lips.

"Fine Misha." he says. "Now go to sleep."



Damien is still draped over me when I wake up. One leg is looped over mine, while his arm is sprawled across my chest, dangerously close to my neck. I whimper from the heat and try to shift out from beneath him. He is too heavy and I end up lying there helplessly, squirming in mild panic. He does not seem to be waking up and I take a moment to observe him. In sleep, I cannot see the rage and insanity in his eyes, nor the exhausted lines that age his face and bring tenseness to his body. I trace his brown with my free hand, noting almost with marvel that I could very well maim him in this vulnerable state. I run my fingertips over his eyelids and feel him moan a soft contented noise between parted lips. I trace the shell of his ear down to the cut of his jaw and then press my fingertips against his adams apple. It moves a little beneath my fingertips and I slip my palm around to press the insistent beat of his pulse. So much I could do...

But so could he. A voice reminds me.

He could've tormented me so much while I was sick, locked in the burn and ache cycle of the fever. He could've drugged me, or used me, or taunted me, but instead he bathed me and talked to me and fed me...

I snarl in distaste, hating the dull throb in my chest and the doubt in my mind. I elbow him hard in the ribs and he growls and rolls off of me. I curl away, hugging Archie. Damien curses darkly and wrenches me by the shoulder to face him, a profanity on his lips. I wait for the blows or the insults but only a long pause greets my fear.

I don't realize until his face softens that there are tears on my cheeks. Rather than smirking or laughing, he tugs me closer and licks the tear tracks from my face. I grit my teeth and try to pull away but he doesn't let up. I cry more and he continues to lap steadily at my cheeks and lips, like my tears are honey. Finally I am subdued enough to lie still, letting his tongue whisper circles against my heated skin.

"Feeling better?" he murmurs near my ear.

I shiver and nod, not trusting my voice.

"Good baby." he mumbles, running his finger through my hair.

I want to be mad that he is calling me baby, and part of me is still a little frightened. I open my mouth to say something mean or bratty but 'thank you' comes out instead.




a/n- mmmm now isn't this just warm and fuzzy...