The repetitive pattern of tending to War's comatose body was finally broken after a few days when he came round with small moans.
Tears poured down my face when his eyes opened to mine, and a small smile creased the corner of his mouth.
"Hey Famisto." War's words were barely a whisper.
I lost composure.
"Sheesh, gettin' snot on yah sleeves. Yanno yah cryin' face's ugly." His chuckle turned into a weak cough.
Forneas handed me some wet towels to clean my messed-up face. He took over War's care, ignoring his weak questions directed towards his make.
War was eventually able to sit up and move most of his upper body, but his legs were still immovable despite having feeling in them. It was as if his body had to recover from being in a jelly state.
"For now, the focus is for you to be able to perform the basics; eating, standing, walking and excreting into a washlet basin unassisted," Forneas commented with his usual cordial and nonchalant bedside manner.
"Doesn't mince words dat machine." War grimaced.
He was able to do all the basics after a few days.
Forneas changed his physical rehabilitation to light-based exercises he called calisthenics. He promised it was a sure-fire way for War to recover his gross motor functions and rebuild his muscle strength.
No one from the Wisteria Garden Squad or anyone else from the Second Tier had visited the room. I was grateful for our brotherly bonding time.
After a few weeks, Forneas left War completely to my care, so he could attend to other units; returning at meal times with our food.
It was during our alone time that I found myself struggling with conversation.
There were so many things I wanted to say but couldn't bring myself to say them. I was happy to see him looking like his old self that the things I wanted to say seemed insignificant.
"Yanno, yah think too much yah gonna get frown lines," War commented between mouthfuls of bread that came with our dinner of fish and vegetables during one sitting.
"Is that so," I answered, feeling shy. It was a strange feeling.
Why was I stuck for words? Was it because of what I saw at that juxtapositioner's lair? I shook my head to clear my thoughts and start from scratch.
"Sheesh, since when 'ave yah been a worry wart?" War groaned loudly.
"Guess when I saw Gat Shiem burning, got knocked out by skrit, had to fight a juxtapositioner demon and found my brother on the brink of non-existence." The words tumbled out of my mouth.
I realised that was why I had been stuck for words earlier. I didn't want to say things that would make War feel he was responsible. Especially when it was clear he wasn't.
"Yeah." War sighed.
"I like yah threads," he said to change the subject.
He played with my bow tie and bent it out of shape.
"Cut it out!" I said, annoyed by the mess he was doing to my clothes.
It felt like we were having one of our play fights back at Gat Shiem.
War stopped his teasing. He faced me with a genuine smile. "Dat's better. Like seeing yah smilin'."
"Your hair's gone thick and fuzzy." My hands messed up his unruly locks of red that had grown back with a vengeance. "Your skin's looking plump too."
War surprised me when he pulled me into a warm bear hug.
I felt his heart pounding against his chest like crazy. Light drops of water landed on my cheek. I went to check his face and had my head pushed to his chest.
"You're crying Big Bro?" I mumbled to his chest.
"Shuddup," War answered back to sound tough, but his voice was choked up.
I relaxed into his hug and wrapped my arms around his heaving body, doing my best to ignore the pent-up tears he let out.
He cried out his grief the entire night. The next morning, our relationship went back the usual brotherly routine.
War spent every waking moment doing the exercises that Forneas had taught him and building up his muscle strength like no tomorrow.
He even had me doing some exercises with him to fuel his competitive streak as he had put it.
Forneas brought in a fresh change of clothes for War when he saw he was in optimal health.
I cursed at the sight of the long sleeve white cotton stiff collar shirt, navy-blue suit vest with matching colored single-breasted jacket and pants, black boots and belt that War was given to wear.
He was suave. An image of the ideal man. Especially after Forneas had trimmed his hair and his face was washed and shaved. Standing next to him made me feel like some try-hard side character.
"How come you look better than me in this getup?!" I pouted.
War laughed. "S'cause I'm a man."
His new-look further fuelled his determination to be fitter and healthier than ever before.
Our exercises were ramped up to a commando regime, which utilized every inch of the lantern room. So much so that I was beginning to fill out the sleeves of my shirt with a bit of muscle.
A month had passed when we had our first human visitors.
Leinard and Jensen stepped into the room at the end of one of our exercise routines.
"Sorry it has been a while Famine. There were a lot of formalities and business to take care of before I could pay a visit." Leinard apologized.
His eyes lingered on my body for some time before he averted his gaze. I wondered if he had noticed the increased muscle tone of my arms.
"We figured it'd be good catch-up time for the both of you anyway." Jensen grinned.
War surprised us when he knelt before the men and bowed low.
"Meh brother and I be grateful for all yah help. I can't thank yah enough for keeping us in yah care," he formally thanked.
"It is quite alright. In fact, your information and assistance may be in lieu of gratitude." Leinard responded.
War and I were asked to attend a summons with the other members of the Wisteria Garden Squad back at their headquarters.
"We wanted to be sure War was well enough to make the trip," said Leinard. "I also needed to see you were doing well too Famine.
I thought I saw a blush on Leinard's cheeks and wondered if the room's heating was too high.
"Eh? Meh brother doing well? Guess I've been lettin' him do a lot of nurse work for meh. Tendin' to meh naked body day and night must've been rough," said War with a cocky grin directed Leinard's way.
He chuckled when it seemed that he had gotten the reaction he had wanted.
"Whaddahell you on about War?! Don't say weird things before the Colonel." I rapped War's head.
Jensen stifled a laugh behind the back of his hand.
"Anyway." Leinard cleared his throat to bring matters back to hand. "Both of you, please be ready after lunch. Jensen and Wilfred will come by to escort you to the headquarters."
They left the room shortly afterwards.
"He's got the hots for yah Famisto. Plain as day it is." War threw out another one of his weird conclusions.
"Sheesh, Big Bro. You've been out of it for too long that your brain's gone all to mush." I frowned.
"No one is hot for anyone. Although, I think the lantern room heating is a bit high now that you mention it." I added, suspecting the intent behind his words.
War's laughter bellowed throughout the room.
I smiled. It had been a long time since I heard his belly laugh and realised how much I had missed it.
"Aah man, please don't yah go changin'." War grinned as he ruffled tufts of my hair.
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