49- In Which Elena Babysits

Elena crossed and uncrossed her arms awkwardly, staring out the window of the hospital room. It had been a while since Hayden had left. Well, he had come back with an extremely vague assessment of what he believed had happened.

For whatever reason, he concluded that Luna had given Cole a dose of the treatment used to combat the Others' poison. This sort of contradicted what Hayden had said about them not trying to kill him since someone Cole's age didn't have a very good chance of surviving the treatment. However, Lawson was nice enough to explain that the chances weren't nearly as terrible since all he received was a dose of the treatment—not the poison itself.

So, it had spiked a terrible fever, but the Sons appeared confident that he would be all right.

Once they were satisfied with this answer, Hayden gave him an injection that would hopefully counteract the effects of the treatment. They hauled him out of the tub, dried him off and put him back into the bed in the hospital room, keeping the icepacks all around him.

Then Hayden had disappeared, without giving very much indication of where he was going. Turner guessed it was to steer the Kingdom and keep a lookout for Dorn.

"Should he be alone?" Elena asked. "Hunt's already tried to kill him once."

"Why would they go after Hayden when Cole's right here?" Phinn questioned, gesturing to Cole who was still a helpless fevered mess.

"Hayden's all alone," Elena pointed out. "Cole's got people watching and guarding him."

"Hayden will be fine," said Lawson. "They probably still think he's dead."

They could really use a new Chaste Beauty. This was the only thing Elena could think about as she stared at the extremely pathetic states they were all in. Well, they were doing pretty well, relatively speaking, but they all seemed exhausted. Even Phinn, who could normally fake it real well, looked drained.

Even though Hayden had agreed to Awaken her fully, now probably wasn't the most convenient time to do so.

Cole suddenly groaned and stirred, rolling his head to the side and knocking away one of the icepacks. He still looked sweaty and pale, but there was a bit more color in his face. Whatever Hayden had given him definitely lowered his fever, perhaps enough to remove the icepacks.

His eyes opened a little bit and he stared around the room at Elena and his three brothers. He whined, and timidly asked, "Did he get me?"

"What?" Phinn demanded, already losing his temper with these circumstances.

"Do I have a Thar now too?" Cole said, feeling his arms for an injection site.

"No," said Lawson, standing up and moving to a bed that was closer. "You're going to be okay in a few hours."

"What happened to me?" Cole wondered, reaching for the icepacks, and then looking down at himself to see he was wearing a new set of clothes instead of the clothes loaned to him from Jackson. Suspiciously, he eyed Lawson, then added, "And who saw me naked?"

"I saw you when you happened not to have clothes on, all right?" Phinn said, angry with the implication that Cole was making with that inquiry (as Lawson slapped his forehead at the direction the conversation went). "It's not like I was looking."

"Remember when Luna pricked your leg with something?" Elena interjected before an argument broke out.

"Yeah…" Cole said hesitantly.

"She probably injected you with the treatment then," Elena said.

"The treatment?" Cole repeated. "To treat poison? Why?"

"To make you weak," Turner said. "An easier target."

"Worked, didn't it?" Phinn added.

"Wait…" Cole started, checking around the room with his eyes a little more thoroughly. "Right now…this is my Kingdom…isn't it?"

"Yes," nearly all of them chimed.

"And no one's tried to poison me while I was weak?"

"You're still weak," Turner said.

"You're always weak," Phinn grunted.

"They could still try to come after you," Lawson said. "And that's why we're here. Hopefully, to stop it if it happens."

"Hopefully?" Cole said, sounding distressed. "How about definitely?"

"Cole, you've taken a big risk to your own health and life to get your Kingdom away from my family," Lawson said, raising his voice, so he initially sounded irritated, but his face softened slightly as he tried not to bite his lip on what he had to say next. "Thank you. I won't forget it."

Elena was actually touched with the way Lawson chose to handle that. It was very big of him to acknowledge Cole's sacrifice when he had earlier stated it was Cole's duty to do so. Maybe, in the end, Lawson had never actually expected Cole to do it voluntarily, which made the fact that he did all the more amazing.

Cole had this pouty look on his face. He had an entire arsenal of various things he wanted to say in order to respond to Lawson's outreach. And this variety of things ranged from extremely bratty like, "Yeah, you better not forget it!" to extremely sappy like, "It was the least I could do for all they did for me."

It was kind of interesting to see how fascinated both Turner and Phinn had become to see how Cole would respond (though Elena was guilty of looking way too into it as well).

Cole's eyes darted to each one of them, and then he looked back at Lawson who was still waiting for some kind of response. Finally, Cole took a deep breath and surprised everyone when he said: "Six years ago, I lived at your house for four months."

Elena's mouth dropped open. She couldn't think of any logical reason for Cole to have confessed to such a carefully kept secret. Phinn and Turner looked at each other, wondering if one of them could confirm it. And Lawson only continued sitting there, his expression not changing.

"I feel bad keeping it from you," Cole said quietly, speaking with quite an even and honest tone.

"It's all right," Lawson said with a sigh (he was taking it a lot better than Elena had expected).

And, apparently, Cole had expected something much more dramatic as well. "You're not mad?" he asked.

"I already knew," he said. "My mother told me years ago, when you were still living there. She had to tell me because I wanted to go back there for Emma's birthday and she couldn't think of a reason why I shouldn't be allowed to do that."

"So you've known pretty much the whole time," said Cole, pushing himself up and trying to sit.

Lawson actually looked like he was thinking up a proper response to this statement of fact. Instead, he merely said, "Yes."

"I don't get it," said Turner. "Is this supposed to be interesting news or something?"

"Maybe if we cared about any of it," Phinn remarked, looking surprisingly disappointed that a brawl hadn't broken out (actually, his disappointment wasn't all that surprising).

"So you're not mad?" Cole confirmed with Lawson.

"No," said Lawson. "If I'm mad about anything, it's that you kept the secret from me for so long."

"But you already knew!" Cole pointed out.

"But you didn't know that," Lawson reminded him.

Cole's frown intensified.

Then, suddenly, Lawson threw a glance at Elena. It totally threw her. It was like he was telling her that he knew a deep and intense secret that she had been keeping from him, and this conversation with Cole was his way of telling her that he wouldn't be angry with her as long as she told the secret soon.

But that was way too farfetched. How could he possibly know one of the secrets she was doing such a good job keeping from him? There were certainly a lot to choose from. If he somehow did come to learn one of them, it would be impossible to know which one it was. He had actually spent some time in the Kingdom of Clouds? The King was a figurehead? Hayden was actually more in charge of making decisions as a member of the Audience of Three than Lawson ever would be as King?

Those were all huge secrets. She was thinking too large scale. She knew that Cole had lived at Lawson's house? She had seen paintings of him as a little kid? There was a probable relationship between Hayden and Emma?

…Phinn had kissed her?

Or…she had almost-sex with Phinn?

Or…she planned on having sex-sex with Hayden?

He could know any one of these. Or none of them. She was being terribly over paranoid, after all.

And maybe that look was apparent on her face because he sort of sideways smiled at her. Perhaps he had only looked at her that way to make her think she had a secret she was keeping from him, and her faced totally gave away that she actually did. So yeah, he probably didn't know anything. How could he?

She looked over at Phinn but he didn't seem concerned with what was going on. Lawson followed her eyes and caught her looking at Phinn. Phinn looked up and saw that both Lawson and Elena were looking at him.

"What?" he demanded aggressively.

"Nothing," Elena said, quickly looking away. She didn't even really know why she had turned to look at him in the first place. Somehow, it seemed most possible that Lawson had learned about their weird relationship. Ah, the word 'relationship' made it sound so serious. There wasn't any seriousness to be worried about. And, following Phinn's angry dismissing of people staring at him, now Cole and Turner were wondering what was going on.

It would really just be best if everyone stopped making a bit deal about this.

And by 'everyone', Elena of course meant herself.

"I'm going to check on Hayden," Elena said, hoping to leave this room before it got more awkward.

"You shouldn't be alone, Elena," Turner said.

"I'm fine," Elena said. "No one's after me."

Of course, that was a stupid thing to say, especially since Luna had tried to kill her a couple of hours ago. She uneasily put a hand to her neck and paused in the hallway, wondering if she should have someone come with her after all.

Then again, that someone would probably definitely end up being Phinn, considering Lawson's walking was still unreliable and Turner wasn't exactly everyone's first choice for a guardian. So she mustered up her courage, choosing probable death over definite awkwardness, and continued walking again.

She glanced back quickly and saw that Phinn had gone to the doorway and watch her leave, perhaps puzzled over her recent extremely strange behavior. So, to avoid any other weirdness, she put her head down and practically ran to the doorway to the stairwell.