Reno stood quietly against the wall, arms folded across his chest as he watched the doctor examine the girl Cera. Rufus was standing on the opposite side of her bed, his hands linked together in front of him as he observed the proceedings. It had taken less than five minutes for both of them to arrive after Reno had made the initial call to his boss, and those five minutes had been the most awkward passage of time he had ever experienced.
He had expected her to go ballistic after realizing she had no memory, but she had remained unusually calm. Perhaps she was just in shock, but whatever the reason he was grateful for her lack of hysterics. She just sat in the bed, her brow furrowed in concentration and her eyes moving about the room aimlessly, as though she was mentally trying to put together some sort of puzzle. He actually felt a bit sorry for her, because by the time Rufus arrived with the doctor, he could see tears of frustration beginning to form in her soft brown eyes.
The doctor spoke in hushed tones, keeping the conversation quiet enough that he couldn’t hear from his place across the room, and Reno cursed the fact that the man’s back was facing him. She nervously looked from the doctor to Rufus, her eyes still shining with her unshed tears from earlier, and Reno shifted uneasily in his spot, wishing Rufus would have just ordered him to leave rather than making him stay. But no, his employer had informed him that his job was not done just because she was awake it was only done when he said it was.
“Reno, would you please come here.”
Rufus’ voice was devoid of emotion, as usual. Reno wondered if it was because he still wasn’t fully awake, or if it was merely the calm before the storm that he was known to exhibit from time to time. He’d said please, though, which was rather uncharacteristic of him though Reno suspected he was probably just looking to show the girl that he was nicer than the complete asshole he tended to be. Then again, there was another possibility: Perhaps he was simply being nice to Reno because he needed him to do something less-than-pleasant and didn’t want to start an argument in front of their present company.
“Yes, sir?” the Turk replied, pushing off the wall to go stand at the foot of Cera’s bed. He absent-mindedly began playing with the blanket folded at her feet, tugging at the fringed edge as he met his employer’s gaze.
“Cera here is going to need to have physical therapy twice a day for the next few weeks in order to regain her strength. I want you to be present for all of these sessions.”
“Why?” Reno asked with a laugh. “It’s not like she can just get up and run off.”
Rufus sighed heavily and shook his head before answering the younger man’s question. “I simply wish to take precautions, Reno, to be sure she isn’t harmed by anyone in any way.”
“So you’re saying you don’t trust the doc here?” Reno asked, pointing to the physician seated to his left. “Pretty bold of you to make that kind of a statement right in front of him, yo.”
“Doctor Robins understands my need to see to it that Cera remains protected, even in his presence. He does not object to you being here during her sessions, so I do not see why you feel the need to object for him.”
Reno glanced at the doctor, who merely nodded, then turned to the girl. She blinked a few times before looking away from him, but he caught the faintest hint of a smile on her face as she spoke.
“Is it really necessary for him to be present? It’s obvious he doesn’t want to be here.”
“Yes, it is,” Rufus insisted, and she nodded almost imperceptibly. Her eyes flickered to Reno’s once more, and the Turk thought he saw the faintest glimmer of an apology in those chocolate-colored orbs.
Reno followed Rufus’ orders albeit reluctantly, and showed up for every one of Cera’s scheduled appointments with Doctor Robins. He would stand by the door, arms crossed over his chest, and watch with complete and utter boredom etched on his face as the doctor assisted her in regaining the use of her legs.
During the first session, the doctor had been kind enough to fill Reno in on why Cera required such therapy. Apparently, she had been in a coma in that research facility for so long that her brain not only scrambled her memory banks, but it also forgot how to walk. He’d called it some fancy medical thing, “a-trophy” or something like that, but Reno had only been half-listening. His mind was on the million other things he’d rather be doing than standing there watching the doc play with the girl’s legs.
Then again, Reno was also enjoying watching the man play with her legs. Or, at least, certain parts of him were. The first few days, he had chastised himself for having such thoughts while on the job, but after that he pushed aside his guilt. So far as he was concerned, it was fair compensation for all the action Rufus was forcing him to miss just by being there.
Rude told him on the second day of his newest bullshit assignment that the rest of the Turks were being sent on good, old-fashioned stakeouts. While a stakeout wasn’t much more exciting than watching some doctor try to get some chick’s legs back into working order, Reno through it was a hell of a lot more interesting. With a stakeout, you had a specific target in mind, something to look forward to, an objective. This… This was just pointless.
“Alright, Cera,” the doctor said, bringing Reno’s mind back to the room he was standing in. “You seem to be making excellent progress. I would say another week or two and you should be up and around.”
The girl smiled at the older man before glancing over to Reno very briefly. He’d noticed she’d been doing that more with each visit. Every time her sessions would come to an end, she would look in his direction, almost as if she was sad to see him going in the wake of the doctor.
“Thank you,” she told her physician, nodding slightly. The doctor merely began packing up his equipment, placing each item carefully back in his bag. Reno moved to open the door for the other man, planning to follow him out and head back to his office for a nice nap on top of the pile of paperwork he still hadn’t completed from over a month ago.
Her voice was quiet and unsure, and he couldn’t stop himself from automatically turning at the sound of his name. It was the first time she had ever said his name, and he wasn’t sure if she was going to thank him, too, or tell him she never wanted to see him again, or what. His blue eyes fixed themselves on her face and she looked down at the bed she was seated upon, a slight blush coloring her cheeks.
“Would you mind staying with me a while after the doctor leaves?” she asked, looking up at him briefly before returning her gaze to the floral pattern of the bedclothes, tracing the outline of one of the blossoms with her fingertip. “It gets awfully lonely with no one here, and I’m sure the doctor has other patients he needs to go see.”
Reno gave her request some serious thought. Rufus had only specified that he was to be there during her therapy sessions. He hadn’t said anything about him being required to stay afterwards. Then again, he didn’t say he couldn’t stay if he wanted to. That’s what it all came down to in his mind: did he want to?
“Sure,” he heard himself saying as he moved away from the door to stand at her bedside. “I guess I can keep you company for a while.”
The doctor issued his goodbyes to them both, and the redhead watched him leave, wondering what in the hell possessed him to stay. Once the door had closed behind the older man, his gaze returned to Cera. For the first time in weeks, he let himself take in her appearance again. She had a bit more color than before, but she was still rather pale probably her natural complexion. Her long, raven-colored hair was shinier now, more healthy-looking than the dull mass it had been when they first found her, and her brown eyes ad a bit more spark to them. He still saw a sort of lost confusion in those eyes, but for someone with no memory of her past or who she was, she was coping pretty well.
“Thank you for staying,” she told him, shifting her position to the edge of the bed and dangling her legs over the side. She was still in one of those hospital-issue beds, so her feet barely touched the floor, and it wasn’t until she started lowering her feet until they were flat on the cold tiles that Reno finally realized what she was doing.
“Woah, woah… The doc said you’re not supposed to be walking yet,” he reminded her as he rushed around to the opposite side of the bed to stand before her, his arms stretched out to catch her in case she fell.
“I’m not going to get any better any faster at this rate,” she told him, bracing herself with her arms and struggling slightly to push off the bed and get herself into a standing position. “I figured, if I try to actually walk, it might be beneficial.”
Reno stood there, watching her intently as she began shifting her weight to her legs. She began to waver slightly and he moved forward, but she shook her head at him, indicating that she didn’t need his help. He held his breath as she finally pulled herself into a full standing position, and winced as her legs suddenly buckled under her and she fell to the floor. He bent down, reaching for her to help her up, but she slapped his hands away.
“Let me do this myself,” she requested, and he nodded, taking a step back, his eyes never leaving her.
She struggled to pull herself back up, her hands gripping the bed frame so tightly her arms began to tremble from th exertion, and it reminded him of when he was a boy. His mother had fallen ill when he was eight, and one of the first things she had lost was her ability to walk. She’d been just as stubborn and determined as Cera was, refusing any help he tried to give her. But things were different, now. Back then, he’d only been a kid and he was too small to force her to let him help her. Now he was a man, and while he respected her desire to do this on her own, it was becoming increasingly obvious that she really wasn’t ready to be taking this step yet in her recovery.
With a heavy sigh, he bent down, ignoring her protests as he slid one of his arms around her waist and carefully pulled her back to her feet. He held her for a moment to make sure she was steady before he let go, and that moment of closeness opened up all manner of new senses for him. His nose was assaulted with the sweet smell of lilies and rosewood and honey, probably from her shampoo or perhaps some sort of perfume she wore. The feel of her warmth beneath the soft fabric of the long white dress Rufus had given her to wear reminded him of just how long it had been since he had a woman, and her closeness brought about a rather natural reaction in him that he was actually embarrassed of, for once.
As soon as he was sure she wasn’t going to fall again, he let go and moved across the room, hoping she hadn’t noticed his predicament and wondering when the hell he started caring if a woman could tell he was getting turned on. He reminded himself that this wasn’t just some floozy he was picking up in a bar for a wild night. She wasn’t someone he could use and then dump the next morning. Getting involved with her like that was more than just stupid it was downright suicidal.
“Thank you,” she said quietly, apparently not to proud to show her appreciation for him having helped her, even if it was against her initial wishes.
“Welcome,” he muttered, looking everywhere but directly at her. He knew he should stay to make sure she didn’t fall again potentially hurting herself in the process but he was desperate to get himself as far away from her as he could in as little time as possible.
“Look, I uh… I gotta go get some paperwork done before Rufus chews my ass out over it,” he told her, running a hand back through his messy red hair and turning to her with a sheepish grin. “I’ve been kinda lax in my duties lately.”
She merely nodded, but she couldn’t hide the disappointment in her eyes. Despite his desire to leave, Reno found himself feeling guilty for making her be alone again after she had asked him to stay.
“Look,” he added with a sigh, “I’m really sorry I can’t stay today, but I will tomorrow. I promise.”
Even as the words came out of his mouth, he was mentally kicking himself for saying them. He never promised a woman anything… never. And here he was making some stupid promise to spend time with a girl he barely even knew just because he felt sorry for her. He rationalized that he was only doing it because otherwise he would just be sitting in his office bored for the rest of the day, but he couldn’t deny the little voice in the back of his head screaming that he was intrigued by her.
“You don’t have to,” Cera said, shaking her head slightly. “I understand if you’re busy.”
“Nah, it’s no biggie,” he replied, kicking himself again.
She smiled at him, nodding, that slight blush returning, and Reno found himself smiling back at her. He quickly pushed back the mental images that were threatening to surface, deciding that he needed to go out and get laid asap in order to get rid of them, and forced himself out the door of her room, sighing deeply once he had closed it behind him. As much as he was apparently fascinated by her, she was a strange girl, and she was making him act and feel far too strange even for his tastes.