I did everything I could for the hopelessly modern cover, but I don't think it was enough... *teardrop*
Maybe some Fanfic can cheer me up!
Disclaimer: We've been over this. I own nothing.
As Alek lay in bed, staring at the dark ceiling, his thoughts wandered back through the evening. It had, of course, been much worse than he’d let her believe.
He’d been both thanking Deryn for making him climb the trees in the park and cursing anything and everything that had led him into his current situation. The cold was all around him, gradually stealing all the heat in his body, and every gust of wind brought another fit of shivering. Watching the blood trickle out onto his arm, he’d been afraid that it would start dripping to the ground below, and then the people searching would see it and find him and--he didn’t know what, and didn’t care to think about it. He was afraid he’d spend all of eternity up there, waiting either for the men to go away or to die. Bovril had been one warm spot, curled around his uninjured shoulder, and he would have liked for the loris to be on his lap instead, but didn’t dare move it and lose the warmth.
It had been the beastie that told him it was alright to come out of the tree, in it’s own perspicacious way. If it hadn’t, he probably wouldn’t have ever come down; Moving was too hard. His muscles had stiffened in the cold and moving them again reignited the pain in his arm and foot. He had limped all the way back to the estate, doggedly pressing on. Then came the final part, pulling himself up the the side of the mansion. Sure, He could have walked up to the front door, but that would have caused a ruckus, and when he saw the light in Deryn’s room, it felt like a sign. His muscles had taken over for him from all of the nights he and Deryn had done it, so he hardly remembered pulling himself up the building.
He tried to make it sound not as bad to her because the look on her face told him how she would react. She was on edge, he could tell by her short sentences and unwillingness for his jokes, and full detail would’ve pushed her over. So instead he pretended to be fine, calm, even, so she would be too.
Alek didn’t fall asleep for a long time, and when he did it was shallow and restless. Whenever he moved something on his body hurt, and lying still never lasted long. He was glad when he heard Deryn stirring in her room, dressing and “tailoring” herself. He decided to see if she was in a better mood this morning by pretending he’d followed her instructions and left off his shirt. It was easy enough to get off himself since he’d only shoved one arm in the night before. Then he lay back down and waited.
“Rise and shine, your princeliness. Breakfast time!” she said, opening his door and striding right to his bedside. “You decent?”
“Yes ma’am!” he replied, mimicking her chipperness, pulled back his own covers, and sat up, wincing. She raised an eyebrow at him, and he tilted his head, the picture of innocence.
“Put a barking shirt on, Alek. You’re enjoying yourself too much.”
“I was only following the doctor’s orders,” he said, and grabbed for the shirt she offered him.
“In that case...” she snatched it away and dangled it just out of his reach. She was playing, which meant she was in a good mood.
“Well, are you going to help me downstairs or shall I hop there myself?” he stood, balancing on one foot.
“Come on, then,” she took hold of his left arm and brought it around her shoulder, forcing him to lean on her, and tossed the shirt onto the floor. He hobbled along with her for a moment, but at the door he lost his nerve.
“Actually, I want a shirt. There’s a breeze in the dining room, and I wouldn’t want to catch a chill, would I?”
“That’s what I thought. Stay put,” she said smugly, and left him standing in the doorway to retrieved it. His bad arm was pushed through first, carefully, and then the other. Deryn buttoned it for him. “Now are you ready?”
He looked himself over. “Yes.”
Dr. Barlow was waiting for them, a slight scowl on her face. “How are you feeling this morning, Aleksandar?”
“Much better, Dr. Barlow,” he lied. They took their places at the table, and biscuits with tea were brought out. Deryn immediately grabbed several--she often complained how much she missed the food on the Leviathan, especially the potatoes--and poured herself a large cup of tea. Alek took one biscuit and nibbled at it. “How did it go for you last night, Dylan?”
“Oh,” she said around a mouthful of biscuit. She continued chewing for a moment, swallowed, and washed it down with a big gulp of tea. “Great. Just fine. Met a boy, and he seems to like me. We’ll be having a lunch on Tuesday.” she waggled her eyebrows and took another bite.
Alek felt like storm clouds had just set in. “Is that so?”
“Aye. Quite handsome he is. A German fellow, too, but his ears are normal sized,” she said, mouth full.
“Mind your manners, Mr. Sharp,” the boffin told her. Both the lorises agreed with her and promptly took a biscuit off the table. They seemed content with chewing for the time being.
“Sorry, Miss. Anyway, he says I argue great. Better than some of the boys he knows. He also wants me to call him Tad,” Deryn taunted him.
“He sounds like a clart covered bum rag to me.”
“And you sound just a squick jealous to me.” she reached over and punched him playfully on the shoulder. “I’m only barking joking, Alek. He’s not near as good looking as you. I like big ears.”
He scoffed and continued to pick flakes off of his biscuit.
“You gonna eat that thing or what?” Deryn pointed at the mangled bread in his hands.
“No. Do you want it?” he said, offering it to her.
“Aye, I do, but you need to eat to heal. How do you think I stay so...strapping?” she chuckled, “Gobble up, Prince!”
He grudgingly took a bite and chewed it, washing it down with a gulp of tea under Deryn’s glare. “Are you happy now?”
The doorbell rang then, and they sat silently while it was answered. The doorman led in a boy, about Alek’s age, with scruffy hair and and airman’s uniform that fit a bit too loosely. A scar ran the length of his face, forehead to cheek, so for a moment Alek didn’t recognize him.
“Newkirk!” Deryn cried, her boy voice threatening to break. She leaped out of her chair and rushed at him, smothering him in a bear hug.
“Hullo, Dylan. It’s good to see you again.” he said when she’d let go.
“Aye, that’s dead certain. What’s barking happened to you?” she openly eyed the scar.
“A flechette bat got me. Godless beast didn’t go out for an attack, got caught on something, I think, and when the searchlight went red...”
“God’s wounds, Mr. Newkirk, that sounds awful,” Alek scooted the chair out from behind himself and stood.
“Aye, it wasn’t pleasant. Lucky I ducked back and it didn’t catch my arm so bad,” he shook his head, “And you, Alek?”
“He had an accident last night.” The boffin responded. Alek noticed how she left out any details. “I don’t mean to be frank, Mr. Newkirk, but why are you here?”
“Aye, I figured you’d ask me that. I need to speak with Mr. Sharp, if you don’t mind.”
“By all means.”
Deryn held out a biscuit to him, “And have some food while you’re at it. You’ve gotten too barking skinny.”