“Are you okay, Peter?” his friend Brenda asked him anxiously.
He came out of his stupor enough to answer her. “I’m fine, Brenda,” he said, “Just achy. And tired. I just want to go home and go to bed.”
“We’re almost there. Will you need me to stay and cook for you?” she said, shooting him a concerned sideways look.
“No. I have some frozen stuff I can throw in the microwave. I’m not hungry right now, anyway,” he said listlessly.
“Okay,” she said unhappily, turning her attention back to the road. Peter leaned back and closed his eyes, feeling a pounding headache starting behind them. He wondered wearily if he was ever going to feel a hundred per cent well again, even though the doctors had assured him that he would. Right now he just felt pulped, and tired beyond words.
Brenda pulled in next to his car at his apartment building, and helped him out. He wanted to lean on her, feeling like a thousand year old man, but he somehow forced himself to walk on his own. Fortunately his apartment was on the first floor - the thought of walking up the stairs to the second floor made him want to groan. He handed her the key, and Brenda helped him into his apartment and over to the couch. He sank down onto it, feeling awful just from that short trip. “Thanks, Brenda,” he said wearily.
“Are you sure you’ll be all right, Peter?” she asked above his head.
He moved his head a tiny bit, not moving the rest of his body. “Yes, I will,” he assured her. “I’m just going to go to bed, I swear.”
“Okay. Call me if you need anything, honey. I’ll come right over.”
“Thanks, Brenda, I appreciate it,” he said.
“What are friends for? Take some of the painkillers that they gave you at the hospital,” she replied, and he made a sound of assent.
He was glad when she bustled back out the door; he was too tired and achy to want to deal with her chatter at the moment. He fell into a light doze, but woke up again when he heard a knock at the front door. He groaned as he dragged himself up off the couch, shuffling over to peer through the peep hole. He saw a chest wearing a black t-shirt, rather than a face. He laughed tiredly as he unlocked the door and swung it open.
“Hey, Pete. You look like shit,” the biker said bluntly as he walked into the apartment with a duffle bag over his shoulder.
“Do I? I feel like shit, too,” he replied, leaning against the door jam. He didn’t seem to have enough strength to move.
To his surprise, he found himself picked up bodily in a pair of strong arms and carried across the living room. “Hey!” he protested, though he didn’t struggle much. His body hurt too much for that.
“Which one is your bedroom?” Jake asked, nodding at the two closed doors.
“The left one,” he said, giving up the struggle.
The biker carried him over to the door, and opened it with one hand. Then he took Peter inside and set him down on the bed. “Did they give you any painkillers?” he asked shrewdly.
“In the little white bag on the counter,” he replied, sitting still because he was too weary and uncaring to bother trying to move.
He heard a grunt, then Jake disappeared. He just sat there like a lump until the big man came back into the bedroom, carrying the white bag and a glass of water. He pulled the bottle of painkillers out of the bag and twisted the cap off easily. “Take these,” he said, handing Peter two white tablets.
Peter put them in his mouth and took the glass of water, swallowing the pills with a few sips of it.
Jake took the glass back from him. “Do you need help getting out of your clothes?” he asked.
Peter looked down at himself, feeling a kind of weary horror at the thought of trying to undress himself. Tears gathered in his eyes at his own weakness, and he tried helplessly to blink them away. He felt like a useless idiot. When big hands took ahold of his shirt, he almost jumped out of his skin. Jake said: “Lift your arms,” and he tried his best. But he couldn’t manage to get them over his head. The biker carefully eased the shirt off of him anyway, laying it aside.
His bare torso was a mass of black-and-blue, a sight which horrified him. Jake stared at it silently for a moment, then bent down( a long way, since he was so tall) and began to gently divest him of his pants. “Don’t feel too bad, Pete,” he said quietly. “I’ve been hurt that bad once or twice in bar fights, and I felt as weak as a kitten for a long time afterward. It’ll get better, I swear.”
He felt like crying again over this solicitous statement. He didn’t even blush over having his pants pulled down his legs; he just stared dully down at Jake’s head as they came off his feet and were set aside as well. “Come on; just a little more,” Jake helped him to settle into the bed, and he nearly sobbed as the pain of his bruises began to recede again. The covers were pulled up over his body, and then fingers lightly touched his forehead. “Sleep, Pete. Rest,” Jake’s deep rumble of a voice said, and he did.
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