Excerpt Brian opened the door.
Detective Tristan Blake stood in the hallway looking absolutely appalling. He had a black eye, swollen almost shut, and his left arm was in a sling inside his open winter jacket.
"Jesus Christ, Tristan! What the hell happened?" asked Brian, in shock at the sight.
"Perp I was chasing smashed a fist into my face and knocked me backward down a flight of subway steps," replied Tristan with a lopsided half-smile.
"Why the hell aren't you in the hospital? You look god-awful."
"I was. They let me go on the condition that I have someone to keep an eye on me for the next twenty-four hours. Probable concussion and stuff... Listen, I'm sorry about this. It was a bad idea, I just couldn't think of anyone else." Tristan turned to leave.
"Wait! God, Tris'. Come in. You just shocked the crap out of me," said Brian, grabbing hold of Tristan's coat. "I wouldn't turn you away... ever." The look Tristan gave him was pathetically grateful, and it made Brian wonder, not for the first time, who had hurt the detective so badly. And he didn't mean the ass who had shoved him down the stairs.
Brian guided him into the den and helped him out of his coat. Every movement Tristan made caused a tight grimace of pain on his face. He sank slowly onto the sofa like a senior citizen and leaned his head back against the cushion, eyes squeezed shut.
"Should you even be out of the hospital at all?" Brian asked. "Is your arm broken?"
"No, just really badly sprained from trying to slow my fall. I'll get out of your hair in a couple hours. I just needed someone to make sure I wake up if I go to sleep for a little while. I really am sorry about this."
"Shut up." Brian leaned forward and kissed Tristan very carefully. "You could've called me from the hospital. I would have come and gotten you. Damn, Tristan, I thought we were friends at the very least. Did you really think I wouldn't help you? Take care of you?"
Tristan opened his eyes and stared at Brian for a long moment, "I hoped... but showing up on your doorstep, all busted up, is a lot to ask of anyone."
"Don't be afraid to ask anything. I can't promise the answer will always be yes, but I'll do the best I can... If I got you some ice for your eye, would that help at this point or just make it hurt worse?" Brian squeezed Tristan's uninjured fingers. They were freezing cold. "You're cold. Really cold. How long were you outside?"
"However long it takes to walk from the subway station over here."
"Why didn't you take a cab? It would've been easier, warmer, too." Brian went to the closet near the front door and dug out a heavy wool blanket.
"I don't know. If I'm not driving, I'm just used to doing the subway. Habit. They gave me something at the hospital for the pain. I feel like my brain's not quite hitting on all cylinders. I knew I couldn't drive, especially with the snow." Tristan glanced up as Brian tucked the blanket around him.
"At least you retained some sense... You want a cup of coffee? It's decaf, but it's not too bad."
"Yeah, that would be great."
"What about the ice?" Brian paused, halfway to the kitchen.
"No, I think it might just hurt worse at this point. Whatever they gave me's wearing off."
When Brian returned, Tristan's eyes were shut again and he had curled forward a little, hugging his injured arm against his body. His eyes opened slowly when Brian sat down beside him. Tristan took the offered cup.
"Did they give you meds to take home with you?" Brian asked.
"Percs," said Tristan after a gulp of the coffee.
It took Brian's brain a moment to translate the street slang.
"There's a bottle in my coat pocket. I'll take some later, maybe." Tristan's hand was curled around the cup and he held it awkwardly from the side opposite the handle, against his chest. Brian only belated remembered that Tristan was left-handed. "Since your TVs not on, I'm guessing you were doing something when I showed up," said Tristan.
"Putzing at stuff for work."
"You can go back to it. Like I said, according the hospital, I'm just supposed to have someone make sure I wake up again the first time I fall asleep."
"Um, okay. You want to go crawl into bed?"
"No, the sofa's fine," replied Tristan and he downed some more of the coffee. Brian returned to his desk and fiddled with the placement of the electrical sockets for a section of the blueprint for a time. When he glanced back at Tristan, the man had curled sideways on the sofa under the blanket and appeared to be sleeping. Brian swiveled his chair around to face the sofa and sat gazing at Tristan for a while. He wondered if the swelling of the black eye would diminish any by morning; it looked pretty bad. There wasn't any way he was letting Tristan leave again tonight. The hard-headed fool needed someone to look after him.