Chapter Twenty: Tibo
Care and feeding of Your Bassist
Teeth clenched, Rolly growled, “Not now, Ti. We’re not far enough yet.”
“Just stop, okay? You’re...dripping.” Tibo’s voice cracked as he pointed to the blood on the sidewalk. “Leaving a trail.”
“Fecking hells,” Rolly spat out. He leaned against a fence, breathing hard, arm clutched to his chest. “I’m sorry, Ti. The damn benighted penlight.”
Don’t pass out on me, Rolls. I can’t carry you. Ashe and Jaxx were up ahead somewhere and he didn’t want to attract attention by calling them back. Tibo yanked the scarf from around his neck and gently tugged at the injured arm until Rolly held it out to him.
“Maybe,” he said softly as he wrapped the scarf tight around Rolly’s forearm. “The house was under watch, though. Had to be. We just took a little too long. Got caught by some rent a cop security check.”
“Well, thanks for that.”
“Can you make it?”
“Have to, don’t I?” Rolly gestured with his good arm. “Move your tiny cute arse. We need more streets between us and that house.”
By the time they reached the guest house, Rolly was stumbling, cursing under his breath every few steps. Jaxx and Ashe had been waiting by the front steps since Rolly had the key and hurried to help him into the house.
Jaxx frowned in concern when he and Tibo helped Rolly off with his coat. “We really should take you to a hospital.”
“No. No hospitals. Too easy to find us.” Rolly sank down on the marble floor of the foyer, muttering. “Don’t want to be after getting blood on the nice rugs.”
Jaxx stepped away, mouth set in a hard line, and returned with his pack. He dug out a first aid kit and sat down next to Rolly. “I can stitch it up. I don’t have any anesthetic and I don’t like doing this, but it’s better than nothing.”
Tibo knelt down on Rolly’s other side. “Want me to stay with you? I know you’re a big badass and all…”
Rolly managed a strangled laugh. “I’m not the one always trying to be hard and tough. If there’s whiskey in the house, I’d be much obliged.”
As he ran to the back of the house, Tibo’s bare feet slapped against the marble flooring. He’d never stopped to put his shoes back on. Shit. His feet were freezing. The liquor cabinet held several bottles of whiskey, so Tibo went for the stereotype and picked the Irish one, snagging a few blankets from the living room as he raced back through.
By the time he got back, Jaxx had the arm cleaned up and propped up on a settee. Tibo slid next to Rolly, covered him in blankets and offered the bottle.
“Ah. Síogaí,” Rolly said with a bright smile. “Excellent choice. Open it for me?”
Tibo did and even took a swig when Rolly offered it. “Rolls. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Shut it, Glent. I’m a big boy. Knew what I was--ow! Fecking troll shite!”
Jaxx had just put in the first stitch. He didn’t look up, only acknowledging Rolly’s pain in the tightening of his eyes. Probably just wanted to get it done. Ten stitches later, he wrapped the arm up and set it in Rolly’s lap.
“Still with me?”
Rolly nodded, handing the mostly empty bottle of whiskey back to Tibo. His complexion was gray beneath his usual pallor, but he’d only cried out during that first stitch.
“Go to bed. Don’t strain that arm or the stitches will come out,” Jaxx said with a pat to Rolly’s shoulder.
“Thank you.” Rolly grunted and wrapped an arm around Tibo as he stood, swaying. “You’re a good Being, Jaxx. Good you were here.”
“Come on,” Tibo urged as he got Rolly moving down the hall. “Soon you’re gonna tell him you love him and start singing Danny Boy or something.”
“I’ve never sung Danny Boy in my whole long life,” Rolly protested. “Hate that fecking stupid song.”
“You hate everything you didn’t help write.”
“Not true.” Rolly sat down hard on the bed, squinting at Tibo. “I like the stuff Eck writes. Satyr music’s excellent.”
Tibo made a wounded sound as he unbuttoned Rolly’s shirt.
“Oh, and sometimes yours aren’t too bad.”
“Seriously? Are we really doing this, McFarland? Not good with jokes right now.” Tibo scowled when he glanced up to find Rolly grinning at him. “Don’t you flash those teeth at me. Lie down so I can get your pants off.”
“Taking advantage of me while I’m incapil—incapitate—not quite myself.”
“Knock it off. I mean it.” Tibo tugged impatiently and tossed Rolly’s pants into the corner to join the shirt and socks. “That was fucking scary. Just a graze, he says. Thought I was watching you bleed out into the street.”
“Don’t exaggerate, love. A few stitches isn’t bleeding to death.”
“It could have been!” Tibo hadn’t meant to shout. “Okay, stay there. I’m getting you a snack. And some water. And some aspirin.”
“Yes, you do. Shut up. You need to keep your strength up and shit.”
When Tibo came back from the kitchen with nuts, cheese, water and yes, aspirin, Rolly had crawled under the blankets, eyes squeezed shut. Yeah. That’s a beautiful package of guilt right there. My fault he hurts. And I shouldn’t have yelled at him.
Tibo sighed and set the tray in the middle of the bed, got undressed and crawled in from the other side. “C’mon, Rolls. Please. I really think you should eat something.”
With a little wriggling and maneuvering, they ended up with Rolly leaning back against Tibo, apparently content to be hand fed from the tray, his head nestled in the crook of Tibo’s shoulder. He couldn’t help the little touches, stroking the fine red hairs on Rolly’s chest, a little touch of lips here and there. When they’d finished the tray and set it aside, Tibo spent the next hour making sure Rolly felt absolutely no pain at all.