Betsey wakes up.
Grumbling, she shifts under the covers, rubbing her head as she tries to prop herself up on her arms. Her head is still throbbing with a dull ache, and her stomach’s still uncomfortably churning, and she still can’t quite tell if she’s awake or dreaming, but she’s here, and that’s all that matters. Here, in the dark of what can only be the general ward, laying on a stiff hospital bed in stiff hospital pyjamas holding a soft hand that’s—
As she adjusts to her surroundings, Betsey can make out some soft snoring to her left. And when she turns to look, her heart damn near stops in her chest as she catches the silhouette of Sonny slumped in a chair beside her, delicately cradling her hand between his even as he sleeps. There’s a small bandage dotting his forehead and a small nick on his lip, but he’s undoubtedly here. Alive.
Right by her side.
Betsey doesn’t realize she’s crying until she reaches up with her free hand to find tears gathering in her eyes. She sniffs, then, her heart aching as she brushes away her tears and tries her hardest not to sob; it would be a crime to wake up this wonderful man so late at night because she couldn’t keep her emotions in check—
Her head snaps back to her left, just in time to catch Sonny lifting his head with a look of such soft concern that it sends even more fat tears rolling down her face. “Oh, Sonny,” she whispers hoarsely, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up—”
“No, no, it’s alright.” He lets go of her hand to wipe away her tears, an act that somehow makes her cry even harder. “You have nothing to apologize for.” He gently traces his thumb across her cheek. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I just…” God, she doesn’t deserve him. Every day for the past two months, she’s woken up and wondered how on Earth she got so lucky as to have the kindest, loveliest, most charming man in the world as her lover, but now… She just woke him up with her concussed emotions when he ought to be getting some rest, and yet, all he can think about is soothing her, as if he hasn’t just survived a bombing. Instead of voicing all these thoughts, though, she just turns her head and presses a shaky kiss to his palm. “God, I love you so much.”
He smiles, leaning in and kissing her cheek. “I love you, too,” he says. “You know that, right?” There’s no harshness in his words; it’s still reverent and gentle, a balm to her hesitant heart. “I’ll always be right by your side.”
She nods, not trusting herself to form sentences right now without crying. “Right,” she whispers, before she’s overtaken by a yawn. “Oh, I think we should try to get some sleep.”
“And I really am sorry if I woke you up—”
“Don’t be.” Wincing, Sonny lets go of her to reach down and rub at his leg. “Anyways, it’s not like I was getting a lot of sleep before…”
It’s only then that Betsey takes note of the details she’s missed; in the dim light, she can finally make out the handlebars on his chair, the wheels resting on spiderweb spokes, and… and what’s left of his left leg, all wrapped up in thick gauze beneath the rucked-up pyjamas.
“Oh, Sonny,” she whispers, resting a gentle hand on his bandaged knee. No wonder she couldn’t find him for the longest time… “Well, what are you waiting for?”
She grins, patting the space of bed beside her. “Always room for one more.”
“Bets, I—we can’t—”
“We can and we will,” she says, holding her chin up. “I’m not letting you sleep in a dingy old wheelchair when there’s a perfectly good bed. Besides…” She drops her gaze. “We’re traumatized patients. We can do as we please.”
He shakes his head, though there’s a smile playing at his lips. “Betsey Day, you’re too much.”
“I’d say I’m just enough,” she says. “Now come on, then, let me help you up…”
It’s a bit of a struggle to get Sonny out of the wheelchair and into her bed when she’s still fighting a nasty concussion, but he manages to bounce over and drop himself beside her. Instantly, she reaches out for him, and he holds on right back, tucking his arms around her back and pulling her close as she settles against his chest.
“Night,” she whispers.
“Night,” he says right back, and she lets the steady beat of his heart lull her back to sleep.
Betsey still finds herself struggling with simple tasks that she’d known how to do just a few weeks ago; there are days when even doing up the buttons on her blouse seems damn near impossible. Lady Hamilton’s been kind enough to keep everyone salaried while the hotel is rebuilt, so it’s not like she has anywhere to be, but being stuck in bed because she doesn’t have the willpower to move out of it isn’t exactly the ideal way to spend the week. Sonny offers to come over and help with her morning routine, but she doesn’t want to put too much strain on him and his still-healing leg, so they compromise and move some of her things into his flat just for a while, until they can get back on their feet; that’s the excuse, of course, for the routine that they slowly build up.
She runs the bath and massages his stump while he sets her curls with the care and precision he usually reserves for the piano keys. He moves from wheelchair to crutches to canes, and she’s with him when he takes his first shaky steps upon his new leg, supporting him just as he has been supporting her. They reconnect with friends who feared them dead, bask in their presence, and mourn for those they lost. It’s slow going, but it’s steady all the same.
The Halcyon finally opens her doors in late March, just as the weather starts to pick up ever so slightly and the last of the snow melts away. Betsey and Sonny are there, of course, sitting right outside the staff entrance in the minutes before their first shift of the year finally starts.
“So, first performance of the year,” says Betsey, letting her legs swing back and forth. “You ready to face the music, Mr. Sullivan?”
“Only if you are,” says Sonny, a playful smile shining on his face. “It’s bound to be a full house tonight, so you better give it your best.”
“Rich talk, coming from someone just as rusty as I am.”
“Who’s to say I haven’t been practicing these past few weeks?”
She smirks. “Oh, you’ve been practicing your fingering, all right…”
He snorts, swatting her arm. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Bets. We’ve got a show to put on.”
“Come on, someone had to make that connection!”
“Yes, just like someone had to stop you from making that connection.”
“And look at us, working together on that front.” She smiles. “We make a damn good team, don’t we?”
“Yeah.” His gaze goes all soft. “We do make a pretty good team.” He sticks his hands in his coat pockets, taking a deep breath. “Listen, Bets, I was going to do this after the show, but…”
“Do what?” A wave of panic tugs at her heart. “Oh God, Sonny, it’s not anything bad, is it—”
“No, no, not at all!” he says. “I just, um, wanted to ask you something…” He finally draws his hands out of his pockets and cups them in front of him.
“Betsey… Four months ago, I told you that I was only ever going to be right by your side. And now, I’m even more certain of that. Getting to live with you has made me see just how much I love you and how much I need you in my life.” When he shifts his hands, Betsey can see the small black box gently held between them. “I don’t ever want to spend my life without you ever again, and I don’t ever want to wake up if it’s not beside you, and…” The box opens, revealing a delicate ruby ring, and her hands fly straight to her face. “I don’t ever want to come home if it’s not to you. Betsey Grace Day—”
“Yes!” she shrieks, knowing full well she’ll ugly cry if she hears him actually say those four beautiful words. “God, Sonny, yes—”
She throws her arms around him, burying her head in the crook of his neck as she laughs through her tears, and he holds her back with a deep rumbling laugh of his own. They’ve got rehearsal in just a few minutes, but that doesn’t matter, not when the sky is clear and the crocuses are in bloom and the best man in the world just asked her to be his. And when he pulls back to slide the ring onto her finger, it fits her perfectly, the red stone in the center glittering with promises untold of their future life together.
They might not know what the coming days and weeks will look like as they reopen, but if one thing is certain, it’s that they’ll be facing it together, hand in hand for the rest of their lives.