"And I feel life for the very first time, love in my
arms and the sun in my eyes. I feel safe in the five
AM light. You carry my fears as the heavens set
fire." Sierra Rodney sang quietly to her husband.
Her voice cracking occasionally. Since arriving back
at the medcenter, she had been an *absolute* mess.
Against doctor's recommendations, Sierra crept into
her husband's bed. She laid with him on her side.
Her fingers occasionally ran over his hair. Since
Farrah had disrupted her nap, she had not slept. She
managed to eat enough to keep going. Everything
concerning Marcus and Zara had been shelved. For
now, Claudius was all that mattered.
"Jump into the heat. Spinning on our feet in a
technicolor beat. You and me caught up in a dream in
a technicolor beat."
She pressed her head against his arm where she began
to sob. Her strength was dwindling. He had now been
unconscious for over twenty-four hours. She was
starting to hear things like *he may never wake up*.
A nurse told her she needed to *prepare* herself.
Sierra had not lost her hope. Her head rose. Her
hand brushed over the side of his face. "I wrote
that one for you, my love. I was so inspired by our
thranta ride. Until now, I was too embarrassed to
let you hear it." Her fingers danced on his chin.
"If you open your eyes, I promise I'll never feel
that way again. I'll drown you in gushy love songs."
She inched upward. Her lips lingered near his. "I
love you. Don't leave me..." Sierra kissed her
husband. "Claudius, I need you so bad." She cried
while continuing to kiss him.
And as if on cue Claudius' eyes slowly began to
open. At first he saw nothing and could not speak.
Nothing was distinguishable, and his mouth felt
incredibly dry. He attempted to move his hands, but
he was barely able to wiggle a finger. His eyes
rapidly blinked and eventually Sierra came into view
... it was a wonderful first sight. He tried to
speak, but could not find the words, as his mouth
was painfully parched. The back of his head still
hurt badly, and despite his best efforts he could
not move. He had been out for over a day and it
would take time for him to recover completely. He
could, however, muster a small smile as he looked up
at his beautiful, young wife, who at first glance
resembled an angel.
Before Sierra, her one wish came true: her husband
opened his eyes. Through her tears, she thought her
emotions were playing tricks on her. She rubbed away
the tears so she couldn't deny it. Claudius had
woken. At first, she said nothing. Her lips
quivered. She started to cry when he gave her a
small smile. Her arms wrapped him up tightly. Her
face nuzzled against his. "Claudius..!" She choked.
Remembering herself, she scrambled halfway out of
the bed to grab a cup of water with a straw sticking
out of it. She used buttons on the bed to help him
move to an angle easier to drink from. "It's good to
see you again, my love. Let me help you." Sierra
brought the straw right between his lips carefully.
"Don't push yourself. You've been out for over
twenty-four hours." Her heart felt all melty. After
all he had been through, he still smiled for her.
Claudius dry, chapped lips embraced the straw and he
began to sip on the cup of water. Unfortunately, he
was so thirsty that he took too much and began to
choke. He was unable to say anything, but the look
in his eyes as he gazed upon her said more than any
words could. When the water cleared his windpipe he
finally was able to speak. "Sierra..." was all he
could get out at first, as he tried his best to get
the words out. Gradually he began to move his arms
and legs, but it was such a strain for just a slight
bit of motion. Whatever had happened had done a
number on him.
She immediately tried to help sit him up further to
aid in clearing his windpipe. It was hard to see him
like this. If things went the way she wanted, then
she would steal his pain away. She didn't set the
drink aside until he had taking another sip with a
soft prompting. "Drink more, you need it." She could
see him working hard to talk and move. Upon setting
the drink side, she took his hands with both of
hers. Her fingers moved between his. She leaned down
to kiss him again now that he was conscious. Her
eyes focused on his. She understood the words he
didn't speak. "You hit your head and cracked your
skull," Sierra explained quietly. Her face crinkled
up as she fought the urge to cry. "You don't need to
worry about *anything*. I'm going to take care of
you." She promised. Through sickness and
Claudius let out a frustrated sigh, as he tilted his
head to the side so that he was not applying direct
pressure to the back of his head. "How long?" he
asked softly, meaning how long he was unconscious,
and how long he would be in this condition. He
wanted to know *everything* the doctors were saying,
but he was not ready to utter that many words yet.
He tried to keep the smile on his face, but the back
of his head was hurting so much that it was a
difficult task. With all of his might he lifted his
hand, which felt like it weighed as much as a Star
Destroyer, to caress his wife's hand gently.
Sierra settled where she had been lying previously.
On her side, they could look in each other's eyes
while they spoke. She couldn't stop touching him.
She was terrified that if she let go, he'd be gone
that very instant. His hand caused her so much
comfort. Goosebumps erupted on the back of her hand.
It felt so wonderful. The mess that had happened
while he was out remained at the furthest reaches
from her mind. Claudius was not in a position to
handle all of that. *Sierra* would right the wrongs
and figure out a way to save Marcus and his wife.
Her hand squeezed his. They would get through all of
this. "You've been out for a day and a half." Sierra
told him. "The doctors were not overly confident in
you ever waking up. You were in surgery for a long
time when we first arrived. You lost a lot of blood.
You *have* to stay here for a week. No arguing about
it or using that cute, pouty face." She offered him
a small smile. She could tell he was in pain. Again,
Sierra peeled away from him. She collected a small
plastic cup with a strong painkiller in it and his
water. "Take this. It'll help with the pain..."
The small pill Sierra offered him was quickly downed
with the aid of the water, and moments later he felt
that unfamiliar wave of euphoria that relieved his
pain and made him feel as if he was floating over
the bed. While the Grand Moff and Duke lay barely
conscious in the bed his underlings were wreaking
havoc in his name. Arden Zevrin was using his
authorization to arrest and murder countless
individuals in the Ringali Shell. Gaius Rodney was
deleting all evidence of Farrah and her attempts to
murder Claudius. Governor Arundel was tearing apart
the Jelena Rodney Center that Sierra had established
looking for traitors. As the old man rested the
galaxy went on without him ... to his great
detriment. But in his drugged state all he could do
was feel the warmth of Sierra's presence.