Xenia opened her eyes, feeling stiff and sore, and was confronted with a bouquet. Someone had set it on the rolling table-tray and pushed it over to sit right beside the bed. The flowers were yellow, a mixture of daisies or something like that and a sunflower. The colour alone made her smile, a sleepy expression that slowly turned to puzzlement. Who on earth had left these? Why hadn't they woken her?
With a jaw-cracking yawn she adjusted herself gingerly on the bed, then grabbed the remote to lift the head of the bed so she could sit up. She was still too sore to sit up on her own although she felt distinctly better than the last time she had woken.
Once she was high enough she reached for the table, pulling it closer so she could turn the bouquet and look for a card. It only took a few moments, then she dug it out. It was just one of those cheap little cards that most florists sell, but it had a cute picture on it. The front was blank, and she frowned, turning it over. When she saw the "M" on the back her fingers went numb and she dropped the card. It took a few moments to find it tangled in the blankets. She held it reverently, cradling it to her chest.
Marcus had come. He had bought her flowers. They were the first gift he had ever given her and for that alone she wanted to keep them forever.
It took a few moments for indignation to begin to colour the joy that one simple letter had given her. Marcus had been there, but he hadn't spoken to her. He hadn't come into the room, or at least if he had he hadn't woken her. Xenia was pretty sure she would have woken up if he had come in, though. She was always aware of him, always had been.
So Marcus had come and not seen her. After he had said she would never see him again, after it was too late, he bought her flowers. Not on any of the occasions over the years she lived with him, not on her birthday, not at Christmas, or a day when she had gotten a new job. No, not until she was in the hospital, had almost died.
Anger fizzled up her spine. It was warm, sparkling like champagne, and she welcomed it. Anger was not a familiar emotion to her. So often she accepted what others did and said, did her best to be kind and never push. She looked at it as bending like the willow.
Others had called it being a doormat.
This anger felt good. It built as she thought about Marcus, about the fact that he could have handled things so differently. He had left, and it was because she was going after him that she had gotten hurt. If he hadn't left she would have stayed home and would never have been outside to have those dogs attack. Or he would have been home to come to her rescue.
Dogs. Those dogs. Whoever owned them needed to be shot. Dogs like that should never be loose. They were dangerous.
Dogs. Xenia's brow furrowed and she considered her fragmented memories of the beasts that had attacked her. They were big. She was not positive, but she was pretty sure that there were no dog breeds like that. Something about their heads and faces seemed familiar, but not from dogs. But something. That snarl.
As an answer came to her she shook her head, then winced, lifting a hand to lightly touch the bandages over her neck and shoulder. That had hurt, although not as much as she had expected. She dismissed the pain, that thought she had tried to reject coming back and refusing to go away.
Those dogs had looked like wolves, but bigger. They had looked a whole lot like art of werewolves. That was stupid, but still. It stuck in her head and it got her thinking, wondering.
She had been bitten. If those things had been werewolves then that meant that she might become one.
Taking a deep breath, Xenia tried very hard to calm herself. It was ridiculous. There was no way those things that had attacked her had been werewolves. Not possible.
A tiny little idea niggled into her brain, a little equation that made her want to stop thinking, find something else. Werewolves + Marcus. What would that mean? Was that the reason Marcus had been hurt all those times? Those things could definitely do enough damage. It would explain things.
Except it wasn't possible.
She glared down at her hands, realizing that she had crumpled the card Marcus had left. Biting her lip, she smoothed it out on the table, her fingertips stroking it. She missed Marcus. If he were here he would tell her how ridiculous she was being.
Tears welled in her eyes and she sniffled, trying to hold them back. It was at that moment that the doctor came in. What was his name? Greg. Right. He had given her his card with his number. His private number, not a hospital number. She'd noticed that later.
He glanced at the flowers, then smiled at her, brows raised. "It appears you have an admirer. Lucky you." He came closer, stepping in to check her temperature, look at the machines around her.
Xenia frowned, looking up at Greg. "Why do you say an admirer?" For some reason the comment had struck her as out of place, as had the fact that he hadn't asked who had sent them. Of course, that didn't necessarily mean anything. Maybe he just wasn't nosey.
Greg raised an eyebrow and grinned down at her. "Well, for one thing you are a lovely lady. I told you that before. You had said your family is out of town and there was nobody, so I assumed it had to be an admirer." He paused for a moment, looking at the IV bag. "Plus there was a man here earlier. I saw him drop off the flowers."
That got Xenia's attention and her eyes widened. "You saw him? Was he ok? He didn't come in here, did he? Why didn't he wake me up?" The words came from her lips in a torrent and she was embarrassed when it ended. Her cheeks flushed and she looked down, away.
She missed seeing Greg's jaw tighten slightly, missed seeing his eyes harden for a moment. There was nothing in his voice to indicate it when he spoke. "So he is the someone who you didn't think would come. I'm glad he did. No, he didn't come in. Just left the flowers at the nurse station." There was a pause, and Xenia looked up at him, her gaze searching. The pause felt wrong, felt odd. She caught a strange expression on Greg's face and it made her want to shrink into herself a little, although she didn't.
"Sorry. It's my fault he didn't come in. I told him you needed your sleep." Xenia's eyes narrowed, and she cautiously shook her head.
"It's ok. You don't have to lie about it. He just left. I know him." Xenia's throat felt thick and she felt that prickle in her eyes again. This was not the time to cry.
"Anyway, it isn't important." It was a lie, but it helped her to pull it together. "I was thinking about calling you. I wanted to ask you a question about my... injury." It was stupid. She felt ridiculous even thinking about saying it, but she had to. She needed proof that it was a dumb idea.
"Could... a dog do that? Do you know?" Her heart was thudding in her chest, the answer seemingly more important than she thought.
Greg looked down at her, his gaze searching. It was longer than it should have been before he responded with a question of his own, "You said it was dogs when I asked you before. Why are you asking me this now?"
She looked up, meeting his eyes, then looking away in discomfort. "I... I'm not sure anymore. I thought it was dogs, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like they were too big, too... something. I don't know. It sounds crazy, I know. But still."
He nodded to her, then carefully sat on the edge of her bed. "I do not know of any dog that could have done that." He looked away, then back. "I think you should get some rest. We can talk more about this later. But I don't think you're crazy. I believe you." He squeezed her hand, then stood.
Quickly, she reached out and grabbed his wrist. "Greg? What do you know? You know something, don't you?" Her voice rose in panic, her heart pounding. Her mouth was dry as she stared up at him and tightened her fingers around his wrist.
"Just get some rest for now. We'll talk later, I promise. There's some time still. But... you aren't crazy." She let go, her hand falling limply to her lap as she stared at him, mouth open. He walked out of the room, his steps more hurried than usual.
Xenia had no idea what was going on, but she was going to get answers. She would make sure of that this time.