After a full week of tests and mind-numbing boredom at the hospital, they finally announced I was okay to go home, albeit strictly on a restful basis.
"Your injuries are going to take a few weeks to heal fully." Doctor Young reminded me. "But it seems like you have a good support network. He smiled at Damien, who had hardly left my side the entire time. I beamed at that, relieved that I could finally escape the hospital ward that had been my world the past week.
Damien's careful attention had even won my parents over. They had grudgingly come to admit that no one who spent that much time caring for me could have been the cause of my injuries. They still ignored my assertions that it had been Pho, instead preferring to gloss over the subject entirely.
I cuddled against Damien happily, looking forward to just getting home, away from the noise of the ward. Even if it meant facing Pho again.
The next morning, Damien was back again, gingerly helping me out of bed. I gasped a little as sharp lances of pain went through my healing ribs but otherwise, I was fine. The nurses handed me some medication as I signed out.
"This should help with the pain, instructions are on the packet." She had an open, friendly smile. "Hope it all goes well for you Cira."
"Thank you." I smiled back, aware of the fading marks of my beating still on my face.
Stupid as it was, I could kill for my makeup right now.
Damien and I walked home together, his arm a protective support the whole way.
"You know my legs are fine, right?" I joked.
He treated me to a devilish grin. "Yeah, but this way I have an excuse to put my arm around you and not be told off for groping."
I kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Who said I would tell you off?"
He was laughing as he opened the door. A split-second later, I was engulfed by hugs from Ania and my Mom, welcoming home.
"Thanks for warning me!" I was laughing as I mock-accused Damien. He attempted an innocent look and instead settled for poking his tongue out at me, behind my mom's back.
Mom and Dad led me through to the living room, fussing over me before vanishing to finish dinner. I was all smiles as Ania chattered away about school, seemingly as happy as ever. After a while, she got called away to help as well, leaving Damien and I alone.
"Welcome home, Cira." Damien said warmly, kissing the top of my head as I settled against his chest. I sighed happily, content just to sit here with his arms around me.
"Yeah, welcome home Cira." An acid-edged tone made both of us turn angrily. "Hope you don't have another accident."
Pho leered angrily before stalking off, giving Damien a particularly venomous glare. His grip on me tightened protectively.
"Hey," I said, laughing weakly as my side protested. "Loosen up a little?"
"Sorry." He grinned sheepishly, though his eyes were distracted.
"Damien?" He looked down at me then, his attention back with me. "Are you okay?"
He smiled. "Yeah, now you're back."
"Thats why you love me." He winked, earning a playful elbow in the ribs and a slightly more serious kiss.
"Dinner!" Dad called us from the kitchen.
As we crossed the hall, I shivered slightly, flashbacks hitting me. Especially as Pho hovered near the top of the stairs, glaring as Damien and I passed him.
"Stay with me tonight?" I implored Damien as we sat down.
He smiled, a slight impish light in his eyes. "Try telling me to leave."
The meal was light-hearted, until Pho appeared. I glanced at Ania, who's face turned to stone. My heart beat faster when I turned to Damien, only to see him exchanging poison glares with Pho. I felt panicked and vulnerable as he settled into a seat directly opposite me. Under the table, Damien took my hand, squeezing it reassuringly. I flashed him a grateful smile as the conversation started up again. All of the light-hearted atmosphere had vanished though. I just wanted to escape that dark presence which directed its vicious hatred at me. That used to be my little brother.