The light returns, and I find myself in a position that, at another time, I might quite enjoy. Certainly it should lead to some clarification that I could definitely use. Right now though, it's just embarrassing. And a little worrying.
"Red, whatever you were about to throw over me... is it flammable?"
A pool of something clear and viscid is spreading out towards the candles that have somehow stayed lit while being thrown to the floor. I suspect that the wax dribbles Puppy created helped the wick miss the floor, but it's not high enough up to avoid the liquid.
"Err, I don't know." he says, looking nervous.
"Well get off me then!" He's pinning me down with his weight, his warmth, and I would like it a lot more if I weren't worried about being caught in a conflagration. He smells musky, better than I'd expected given everything we've been through. Maybe the nurses in the hospital were giving him sponge-baths when I wasn't there....
He's up, levering himself on muscular arms, and picks up both candles, gently blowing to extinguish them. I get to my feet as well, in a less-ladylike manner than I'd like, but one that's all my own.
"Laika said she'd locked you in the janitor's closet, so I came down to let you out. I think she thought you'd hurt yourself in the dark. She really cares for you, Red." It hurts a little to say those last words, but I make myself. He grunts, and picks the spilled containers up.
"Red," I feel my stomach flutter, but I have to ask him. "Red, I think we need to talk."
He looks up, bright eyes narrowing, apprehension on his face.
"Really Red, this has been going on too long now. I think we need to get this out in the open."
"You may be right," he says slowly. "I've wanted to say something too, but the time never seemed right."
"I know." I have to catch one hand in the other to stop them shaking and showing how nervous I am. I can't have him thinking I'm afraid now, not when everything around us is falling apart. "Red,.... Damn it, this is hard to say."
"Take your time," he's smiling, and it's quite a shy smile, almost boyish. Why does he have to be quite so damnably attractive?
"Red. I want to know what you've got planned. I want to know what happens next. We're in here, and we're waiting, and I know that you're recovering, and Q's recovering, and Puppy's... well, Puppy's yours and you know her better than the rest of us... but, Red, we can't stay here forever. We need a plan. And I know you've got one, and I'd like to hear it. Please. And please don't be angry with me for asking, but no-one else will and the tension's starting to affect us all."
That's a lot of words that have just run out of me, and I feel light-headed, slightly drained. And I hate myself for asking him not to be angry with me. Like it really matters (only it does, there's no point in kidding myself).
He looks rather stunned; if this were a diplomatic meeting I'd say he was expecting me to say something else altogether. The silence drags on until finally I feel compelled to help him out.
"Red, I--" we speak together, but he stops faster than I do and gestures that I should continue.
"Red, you've spoken to the Mayor, and we've got the disc. Q should be able to tell us by now if he can access the data or not, and you know what the Mayor's offering. Can you at least tell me that? We'll go up and ask Q for a status report while you do?"
He gives me a funny look again, like he was hoping for something else still, and then he sighs, a tiny little sigh, almost one of disappointment. He slips his arm through mine, and tugs gently, and we walk towards the stairs. He starts to speak.