weren't tears in Andy's eyes, but Peter couldn't hold his
back any longer. They were falling now;
"Ah, Laddie…." Infinitely gentle, Andy's arm moved awkwardly around his shoulders and Peter was pulled into weak arms. He went, half-sitting on the hospital bed, half-lying on his boss. His friend. For the last two years, his lover.
"Don't be daft, Pete."
"I almost lost you. And life without you...." What was it he'd said to Wieldy?
"It's almost impossible to imagine a world without Andy, isn't it?"
Impossible. Especially now.
"I had a chat with God," Andy murmured, at least, it was what Peter thought he'd said. "And I told him to fuck off. I wasn't ready to go. He acted all nice, like, but I wasn't fallin' for it. I wouldn't leave ya, Petal, not while it's still my choice."
Peter felt a shudder run the length of the arm around his shoulders and reigned himself in, pulling back slowly, letting Andy's arm fall and find both hands to hold, mindful of the IV port and all the other tubes and wires. He sniffed, raising his right hand, Andy's left, to wipe his face on his sleeve. "God?"
"Aye. Didn't feel like the other one. Don't think I've led that bad a life."
Shaking his head, Peter blinked free fresh tears. "I didn't mean…." Who knew what happened on the edge of life? If Andy believed he'd spoken to God, who was he to argue? "You know… when Wieldy turned up, told us you'd died, and even though I knew it wasn't true… it was the expression on my face that had Kentmore spilling his guts faster than a coach load of Rugby players."
Andy squeezed his hands. "Nineteen days in a coma and already you're stealing all my best lines. And sommat else! I hear you got in a quick snog while I was lying unconscious on the ground…."
Hadn't he known he'd never hear the end of that? "Mouth to mouth, Andy. CPR."
"Saved my life."
"Broke two more of your ribs." Peter thought maybe he could feel a hint of hysteria rising.
"That I can survive, Sunbeam."
"And… I wasn't here for you."
"When you woke, to all this, I should have been here. You were there for me, never left my side, but I couldn't do that same for you! Couldn't sit still… had to find who'd done this."
Andy pulled on his hands, anchoring him before he could lose himself in assumed guilt. "Yes, you bloody well did! Wouldn't have forgiven you if you hadn't…." Peter looked into blood-shot eyes and mirrored the wry smile on Andy's face. "You did what you needed to do, Pete. When you were in here, you'd crashed your car into a pillar, there was no one to blame, no one to hunt down. Some bugger blew me up! And you found them."
"I wasn't here…."
"You were there when I needed you, like always. And you're 'ere now. Besides, the nurses said you'd been a pain right in the place they'd pushed the suppository." Peter felt his face contorting in distaste - it was worth it, so good to hear Andy chuckle. "Hanging around all night while everyone was tryin' to get some kip." Large fingers were stroking his hands. "Besides, I'm proud of ya. Pissin' off the funny buggers, makin' a nuisance of yerself over three counties, all for my sake? You'll make all the other Chief Supers jealous. I'm gonna have to explain yer to Sandy Glenister at the next coppers' conference I suppose."
Peter wiped his eyes again. "Sorry."
"Why?" Andy took a deep breath and yawned. He really wasn't in any fit state to be providing emotional support to a whimpering lover. Something else for Peter to feel guilty about. "Nothin' to be sorry for, Petal. Now listen, lad. Go for jar with Wieldy, then go and get some proper sleep. That's an order."
He couldn't help respond with a quiet tease. "Been a long time since you've given me orders."
"Too long, I reckon."
The grip loosened on his hands and he watched Andy's eyes close. Leaning over with a small smile Peter touched his lips the warm forehead. "Sleep well, Andy. Sweet dreams."