It seemed like forever before Doctor Young emerged from Pho's room again.
"He's stable." The poor man looked exhausted "But he's sedated again"
I nodded "Can we sit with him?"
Doctor Young let us through.
Pho had been left lying on his side, his hair falling into his eyes. Gently, I rolled him onto his back, pushing the hair away and exposing his chalky complexion. Ania watched, her expression pained.
"He always preferred sleeping on his back when you two were babies." I explained, trying to smile. "And if he ever had anything on his face, he'd always wake up crying."
Ania nodded. "Yeah, he hates having stuff covering his face.."
I hugged her. "He's going to be okay, Ania."
She nodded into my body, hugging me tightly back. I steered her to the seat by his bed and made her sit.
"I'm going to get something to eat and drink. I'll be back in a few minutes okay?"
She just nodded again, watching Pho as he lay there.
Damien was waiting as I backed out of the room.
"He's still out." I said distractedly. "I promised Ania I'd get something for her."
He put his arms around me, holding me close. "You're amazing."
I laughed, a hollow imitation of the usual sound. "I'm tired. You're the amazing one here."
He kissed the top of my head gently, saying nothing but holding me tighter.
Eventually, I pulled away, reluctantly reminding him that I was on a mission. He pulled a face, showing his worry for the first time.
"Cira, you're still healing."
"And my little brother is in a hospital bed. My sister needs me." I didn't look him in the eyes though as my sides complained, reminding me of my injuries.
"Go home. Get some res-"
I shook my head, cutting him off. "Its not going to happen until Pho is okay."
He pulled a face again, sighing but letting me go.
"Give me a call if you need anything. I've got to go to work and I'll drop by the bar for you."
I flashed him a smile. "Thank you."
I wandered through the corridors for a while, just letting things settle in my mind. I was aware of pain slowly spreading through my body but ignored it, figuring I'd just take something when I got back to Pho's room, where I'd left my jacket with my painkillers in. I was fumbling around in my jeans pockets for some change, finally reaching a vending machine with something Ania would like in it. Waves of dizziness hit me. I stumbled back, putting my hand on the wall and fighting them off. I was alone in the corridor. After a few minutes, I straightened up again and began to feed coins into the machine.
It took longer than I expected to get back to the room. I had to stop twice more to let some dizzy spells pass, only just remaining concious. When I got back, our parents had returned.
"Cira, I want you to go home." Dad said, firmly. "You're very pale."
For once, I didn't argue, taking the bus and getting home. I let myself into the empty house and snatched a couple of hours sleep. When I woke, I had a message from Dad telling me to go to school.
We'll let you know as soon as anything happens. Ania has finally fallen asleep, we don't want to disturb her.
I replied to him and got ready for school. Just as I was grabbing some breakfast, the doorbell rang.
As soon as I opened the door, Damien pulled me into a hug. I closed my eyes, instantly feeling better. I pulled him down for a slow kiss.
"You ready?" He said eventually, a warm smile on his lips.
I nodded, pulling my bag onto my shoulder. I managed to keep the dizziness at bay while Damien steered me through the crowds of people wanting more gossip.They jostled us, knocking me against a wall at one point before we finally made it to the relative calm of the library, where we had a study period.
Damien was grinning. "Wow, seems like you're a bit of a celebrity now."
I nodded, feeling a wave of dizziness hit again. I put my hand to my head gingerly. It came away sticky with blood. Damien met my horror-struck look with wide eyes. I whimpered once before everything went black.
Damien watched Cira crumple, her beautiful face white. He started yelling, checking that she was still breathing. There was a flurry of activity, ending in another ambulance ride to the hospital, another agonising wait. Eventually they delivered the news. Cira's injury had been more severe than they thought before. She had bleeding on the brain and they'd rushed her to surgery. The surgery had been successful but she was in a coma. Not medically induced this time. He stood apart from the Crockfords as they absorbed yet more bad news. Ania took it stoically, her face pale and her eyes serious. He stayed with Cira as the others left. Pho had woken up and was asking for his family.
"Cira?" He whispered. "Cira, don't you dare go anywhere. Please, beautiful. I can't do this without you." He kissed her forehead then, stroking the hair away from her face. He remembered the way her eyes had shone when they first kissed and smiled.
"You're the best thing that ever happened to me, Cira."
Damien had never been a religious man, but now he prayed. He prayed for the girl he loved to be as strong now as she had been facing off every bully in the school. As she had been facing everything that had happened with her younger siblings. He prayed as he clasped the small box in his pocket, containing a specially made ring, as she had once described as her dream engagement ring.
He prayed that he could get the chance to put the ring on her finger and see her eyes sparkle again.