In the fluorescent light, the circles under his eyes look like bruises. "There’s still time. You should sleep." Unresisting, he lies back down, but just stares at the needle on one of the dials as it twitches from side to side. Slowly, as I would with a wounded animal, my hand stretches out and brushes a wave of hair from his forehead. He freezes at my touch, but doesn’t recoil. So I continue to gently smooth back his hair. It’s the first time I have voluntarily touched him since the last arena.
“You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real? “
"Real." I answer. It seems to require more explanation. "Because that’s what you and I do. Protect each other." After a minute or so, he drifts off to sleep.
"That I knew I’d misjudged you. That you do love him. I’m not saying in what way. Maybe you don’t know yourself. But anyone paying attention could see how much you care about him,” he says gently.