Eric waited in the emergency room for the med tech to finish up with his hand. It was so stupid. It was only a splinter, but his boss had demanded he have it looked to. The last stitch was tied off, and a bandage was in place at last.
“Thanks. You do neat work.”
The med tech looked surprised at the comment. “Oh? You’re welcome. That was a pretty mean splinter. Looked like half the desk in your hand.”
“Yeah, it bit me a good one.” Eric walked out of the cubicle. The desk in his office had a rough edge, and he had caught it just as he was getting ready to leave work. He’d been cussing up a storm and holding his bloody hand when Margaret walked in. She marched him off to the emergency room over his protests. She’d countered with the fact that working in a hospital gave you certain benefits. One of them being medical care. At that point, Eric gave in.
Walking out to the car, he was trying to decide how he was going to handle this. Under the bandage he could feel his hand start healing. He was also heating up. He knew that a healing trance would follow. Big question was whether he would get home before he got too fuzzy.
Driving Zach’s junker was a challenge. The stick shift handle hit right at the end of the stitches. The med tech had slit the skin to remove the splinter. It had been bigger than Eric thought it was. Hurt too. Pulling into the driveway a few minutes later, he was surprised to see Kate running down the back stairs.
“Eric! What did you do to your hand?” she asked before he’d even gotten clear of the car door.
“Who called you? Margaret?”
“No one. It’s just that my hand has been hurting something fierce for the last hour and a bit.”
Eric was feeling really groggy and was trying to think as he walked towards Kate. “Um, I got a splinter. A bad one. How’d you know it was me though?”
Kate rolled her eyes. “You sleep with a man, and after a while, you just know when they get hurt. Just like when the boys got hurt, I’ve always know. It’s just with you that sense is really hyper. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this.”
“Ok, but if I don’t get in bed soon, you’re going to be carrying me.” He stumbled on the steps.
“Eric? Did they give you something?” She was suddenly concerned as she realized just how out of it he was.
“No, my body is just trying to go into healing mode. Sort of a trance. And…” he stopped as he stumbled. He caught himself and Kate came up behind him to steady him as they moved up the stairs and into the house. Kate got Eric to their room, undressed and in bed as fast as she could. Even then, he was nearly asleep before she got his head on the pillow. He was shivering, and his skin was hot to the touch. Kate wasn’t sure what to do, but stuck with common sense. She tucked the blankets in around him and went to check on the rest of the family. Andy was in the living room with Zach and the kids. She motioned to the two and went towards the kitchen.
“What’s up Mom?” Andy asked.
“Eric’s sick. He isn’t acting quite right, so I’m going to stay with him. Can you two get the kids fed and put to bed?”
“Sure Mom,” Zach answered. “Is there anything we can get you?”
“I’d love a cuppa.”
“I should have known,” Andy said with a smile on his face. “We’ll bring it to you. Go back to Eric.”
“Thanks. It’s just that this is the first time I’ve ever seen him ill, and I’m a bit worried.”
“No problem Mom,” Zach said as he got fish fingers and fries out for the kids. “We’ll handle things. Go on.”
Kate patted her boys on the back and headed off to her room. Eric was curled up tight in the quilt and looked asleep. He was so hot that Kate was concerned. She tried to move the quilt to cool him off, and he held on tight. She gave up. Grabbing her book and turning on the side lamp, she sat down on the bed. She barely opened her book when Eric rolled over and curled up around her. He was still sound asleep, but holding on to her like she was a teddy bear. After a few pages, she realized that she couldn’t concentrate on her book. The boys hadn’t brought her her tea, but she decided to snuggle with Eric until they did. Curling up with him, Kate realized that she too was getting warmer. It didn’t make any sense, but she figured it was just because he was so warm. Wrapping him up in her arms, she closed her eyes and soon was fast asleep.
Zach knocked on the door a few minutes later. Not hearing an answer, he opened the door slowly. Both of them were fast asleep. He set her cup of tea next to her on the nightstand and covered it with a napkin. He turned off the bedside lamp and snuck back out the door.
Andy gave him a quizical look when he came back in the kitchen. “What’s up?”
“Mom and Eric are deep asleep. Like they’ve been there for hours. Plus, they had that glow around them like when Mom is doing magic. I’m curious as all get out, but I guess we’ll have to wait till morning.”
“Yeah. Mom had that look she gets when one of us gets sick. She must love him something fierce.”
“I know. Didn’t ever think she’d be happy like that again. I’m happy, but I worry too.”
“Know what you mean. I want things to go well for Mom.”
Zach nodded and they both went to work on supper.
Dawn was peeping through the curtains. Eric stirred and it woke Kate up.
“Oh gods are we soaked. Your fever broke and we’re drenched.” Kate tried to move.
“Not fever, so much as a healing trance. I was too out of it to explain last night. Something the family does,” he started to explain.
“You mentioned trance when we were talking last night. I wasn’t sure what you meant.”
“My body goes into healing mode, like overdrive. I heat up and heal. That’s why I’m soaked. Not sure why you are.”
“Neither am I. Yet, I have to admit that I have been feeling aches and pains that I know aren’t mine for a few months. Didn’t know who to attribute them to, but now that I think on it, it can only be you.”
Eric looked at her, feeling rather sheepish. “Yes. It’s me. I have been trying to figure out how to bring this up with you. It’s something that normally my family does. I hadn’t heard of outsiders doing it, but I guess it must happen. Or, there are other possibilities.”
“What do you mean?”
“Kate, I’m not sure. It’s why I hadn’t talked to you about it yet. I’m still trying to figure things out. I’ve never had anyone fit this well with me who wasn’t family. So, there are things I’m not sure of.”
“Ok, so this whole feeling like I’m joined at the hip with you is a normal thing? At least for ‘family’?”
“Yes.” Then a thought struck him. “What else have you been feeling?”
Kate took a deep breath. She’d been afraid she was going nuts. Empath or not, some things were just too odd. “I’ve felt muscles I don’t have, any strain or minor injury you get, when you are really hungry or anxious and…” She stopped, not sure if she really wanted to say it.
“Your orgasms.” Kate felt her face turn red.
“Well, at first, I thought it was just that I hadn’t had sex in so long that everything felt so good. Then I realized that it was more than that. I was experiencing your orgasms as well as my own. It was sort of icing on the cake, and I was afraid if I mentioned it, it would disappear,” she said at last.
Eric smiled, and then started to giggle. “Oh Sweetie. You aren’t crazy. Very empathic and tuned into me, but not crazy.”
Kate smiled in relief. She’d been nervous about bringing up this subject. “Well, that’s good to know.”
Eric smiled again.” Oh, and by the way, you share too.”
“You heard me. I get an extra boost from you too. It makes up for all the days I share your cramps.”
Kate turned beet red as what he was saying struck home. “Oh… Oh… oh my. No wonder you’ve been so adept at bringing me something to deal with my…” She stopped mid sentance to bury her face in her pillow.
“It’s okay Sweetie,” Eric took Kate into his arms as gently as possible. “It just means that we are tightly linked. This is a good thing most times.”
“Ok, I guess. There are just some things that take a bit of getting use to.”
“How are you feeling this morning?”
“Other than sweaty and a bit achy, I feel fine. My hand itches something fierce, but that means I’m just healing fast. My biggest problem is that my healing rate is too fast, and the med tech that put the stitches in isn’t going to believe me that they are nearly ready to come out.”
“What?” She was trying to figure out where he was going with this. “Oh! You need the stitches out now, and they probably shouldn’t come out for a week for normal people. Right?”
“Hmmm, We can’t leave them in. Here, give me your hand.”
Eric gave her his hand and watched as she took the bandaging off. She inspected it and then turned towards her nightstand. She had her sewing snips in her hand and began to pick at the stitches.
“Here. Give me those. I can get them out faster than you can.”
“Now who is the patient?”
“I am, but I’ve had some medical training, and can do this fast.” He took out the stitches.
Kate watched him do one handed what she had trouble with two hands. “Wow. I guess you did. I take it that you had that training when you were…. not you?”
“Yes. One of those things that some of us learned was basic medical care. That and a few other things,” Eric said with some sadness in his voice.
Kate realized that they’d hit one of those subjects he didn’t really want to discuss. Changing subjects was good. “So, are you going to have to wrap that up for a few days even though you don’t need it?”
“Yes. It’s a pain in the ass, but the weekend is soon and I can drop the charade then.”
She nodded. “You feel good enough to shower?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”