You combed through the mines, pickaxe in hand as you dodged the slimes that occasionally tried to headbutt him. You'd left without telling Harvey what exactly you'd be doing since you knew how anxious he could get when it came to you and the mines. There was always a chance of him trying to convince you not to go, but you refused to risk it this time. After all, you were just there to collect some gold ore you needed for an upgrade and didn’t want to deal with too many monsters anyway. You weren’t there for too much combat.
That was the plan as you avoided the shadow brute lingering in the shadows, pocketing your glow ring in hopes of hiding from it. The only downside is that you were left to mine in the dark, stumbling about as you’d run out of torches an hour ago. Still, you continued. It was early afternoon when you entered, and you already had most of the ore you needed. Just a few more pieces and you could stop by Clint’s shop before heading home.
You slipped your glow ring back on once you were far away enough from the shadow brute, making your way to the final corner of the level and spotting the last gold node in the far corner. You quickly broke into it but frowned to yourself as you realized you were still one short and had already cleared the entire floor. You walked around to make sure you hadn’t missed any, but it was obvious you had to go down another level. It was just one more piece, plus the next level would have an entrance to the elevator so you could leave just as quickly. You checked your bag, realizing you were out of food but deciding to go for it anyway.
You dug around for a ladder, finally finding one after the fourth stone and quickly making your way down. As your feet touched the ground, you heard the ding of an elevator and the familiar wails and grunts of monsters in a loud chorus. You sighed internally, turning around to see that the entire level was infested with monsters. You’d hoped it would mostly be slimes, but the place was crawling with shadow brutes, the closest ones spotting you and beginning to make their way over. You considered leaving on the elevator, but then you’d have to come back later for the last piece of ore, at which point Clint would probably be closing for the day. Not only that, but Harvey would definitely start to worry if you took longer than you said you would. You almost always got home late when mining--there was no way he wouldn't know at that point.
The shadow brutes were slowly making their advance as you settled on clearing the floor. You gripped your sword, certain you could easily take them out. You did it once, it was a slime-only infestation, but you still did it. That had to count for something.
You took a deep breath, moving in on the oncoming enemies while the ones farther away finally noticed you, attracted by the commotion and light. You swung at the nearest ones, landing a hit on the one in front as it swiped at your chest. You winced sharply, ignoring the pain as you moved to the side and away from them as more came from another corner. Despite knocking the first few down, more seemed to come and take their place before you could even blink.
Still, you were determined to get the ore you needed and refused to back down. You'd already gotten this far anyway and weren't even that tired yet.
You stabbed at the nearest shadow brute, jumping when you felt one grab at you from behind, trying to shake it off. You aimed at its head, grinning as it fell to the ground. You did the same to the next one, slicing at it in one swift motion and gaining more confidence.
You sprinted away from the horde of monsters to catch your breath when your vision started spotting, a wave of nausea going through you. You stumbled, catching yourself against the wall as you gazed down to see your shirt painted a deep red, pooling at your stomach. The first shadow brute had actually swung at the right place. You pressed your hand to it, hissing sharply as more blood-soaked through, pouring out at a constant pace. Your breath came out ragged as blood rushed in your ears, your stomach pulsing as you struggled to stay upright. You glanced up to see the cluster of enemies getting closer, moving to close in on you. You put all your willpower into standing up, heart racing as you realized you had to go and you had to go now .
You moved as fast as you could towards the elevator, hunched over as you clutched your stomach. The shadow brutes were gaining speed as you tried to move faster, your vision spotting even more as you did. At the same time, the room seemed to spin, the urge to collapse growing with each desperate step.
You practically threw yourself into the elevator as you got to it, leaning heavily against the wall as the door closed on the shadow brute's face. You tried to control your labored breathing as it did, pain now radiating from your stomach. The bloodstain had grown even bigger, your hand and chest completely covered in it.
You felt sweat on your forehead as you stumbled out of the elevator as it came to the first floor, hobbling to the exit of the mines into a cool fall's day.
You leaned against the doorframe, pushing yourself to a standing position as you stepped out and spotted Demetrius by the river. Your eyes met, and he began to smile before it dissolved into a look of pure horror.
"Oh, hey Demetrius," you said, smiling weakly as you collapsed to the ground.
You woke up in bed, blinking against the pale lights of Harvey's clinic. You glanced around the room to see him sitting in a chair nearby, the events of the mines coming back to you. A horde of shadow brutes had almost killed you.
He had a clipboard in hand and was hastily scribbling something down as you spoke up.
"Harvey?" you said, taken aback when your voice came out weak and hoarse.
He looked up, immediately moving the chair closer as his eyes widened, "You're finally awake!"
"... Finally? How long was I out?"
"If I tell you, you'll just try to get up and brush it off," he crossed his arms over his chest, huffing and frowning, "That was a really dangerous stunt you pulled, Marco. You're lucky Demetrius was there when he was--who knows what would've happened if he didn't see you! What were you doing?! What were you thinking?!"
"Harvey, let me explain-"
"Do you even realize how wreckless that was?? Why didn't you tell me you were going into the mines? What if you'd… and I didn't know…" he trailed off, abruptly looking away.
"I'm sorry. I should've told you, but I didn't want you to worry-"
"As your husband and your doctor, it's kind of my job to worry. What exactly happened in there?"
You groaned, the dull ache in your stomach getting sharper as you shifted into a sitting position. You weren't going to hear the end of it.
"I was collecting ore and ran into an infested floor. I thought I could clear it, but…" you touched your stomach, feeling the bandages wrapped around your injury, "A shadow brute got a little too close."
He shook his head, running a hand through his already tousled hair. You wanted to reassure him that you were fine, but thought it'd be counterproductive with you in his clinic and all.
"More than just a ‘little close,’ Any later and you could’ve… ” he stopped himself, looking away, “You need to be more careful. You know how I feel about the mines, so if you have to go in there then at least tell me first."
You sighed, seeing the lingering worry on his face, "I know, I'm sorry Harv. It won't happen again, promise."
You crossed your heart, trying to make him feel better. He smiled gently, setting aside his clipboard and holding your hand in his.
“So Doc, how bad is it?” you asked as casually as you could.
He frowned, pushing up his glasses as he glanced at his clipboard, “You have a deep laceration just underneath your ribs, but I was able to stitch it up pretty quickly. You’ll have to rest for some time either way. I know you won’t like it but--I think you should leave the farm work to me for a while,” he said, his doctorly tone making it sound less like a suggestion and more like a statement.
You couldn't help the laugh that escaped your mouth, “Nope, not happening.”
“I know how it sounds, but you shouldn’t do any physical labor while like this, you’ll risk your stitches coming undone. You need to rest.”
“And what? Let you run the entire farm? You barely remember to water the houseplants.”
He frowned, “I’m being serious. I’m sure I can manage it if you give me some tips beforehand.”
You tried to picture him milking the cows or harvesting the crops. It was a cute image, but there was the issue of him knowing next to nothing about both things. What if he planted things that were out of season? Or accidentally smashed a corn stalk? What if he mixed up the cows' names??
Not to mention that the idea of someone else running the whole thing without you left a sour taste in your mouth.
You shook your head, trying to think of an excuse, “What about your work?”
“I’ll just leave a little late-”
“I don’t know, it might take you longer than me-”
“Then I’ll wake up extra early,” he stated, gently squeezing your hand as he smiled, “Seriously, I’ll do everything I can to keep things in order while you stay in bed and recover-”
“Stay in bed? For how long?”
He sighed, looking away, “W-Well, um-”
“For how long, Harvey?” you asked again, this time more demanding.
“It depends on the speed of your recovery, alright? But you’re young and in shape, you’ll be back on your feet in no time.”
You huffed, dropping his hand and crossing your arms, “Vague.”
“I don’t want to be bedridden, okay? And I don’t want someone else completely taking things over for me. Help is fine, but I want to be in control.”
“I know, but your stitches are still fresh. Too much exertion could make them come undone, which would only make things worse,” explained Harvey, frowning as he did, “And… I don’t want to see you in any more pain if I can avoid it.”
You felt yourself soften, staring at him as he mindlessly adjusted his tie. You hadn’t looked at him too closely earlier, but now you noticed the tired look in his green eyes. He’d even skipped a button on his shirt, making the messiness of his appearance even more obvious. The only thing in the right place was his tie, but even that seemed to be done too tightly. You shook your head, a warmth blooming in your chest as you shifted near the edge of the bed, ignoring the pain as you reached for his tie, silently undoing it. He let out a small gasp as you did, but didn’t move to stop you. You let it drape against his shoulders as you went to press a finger against the skipped button on his shirt.
“You missed one,” you said, watching as a smile pulled at his mouth.
“So I did,” he said, moving to undo it but stopping as you beat him to it, already moving to adjust the rest of them.
He glanced at the door, a light pink dusting his cheeks, “If someone walked in on us like this, Marco--”
“They’d see me taking care of you, that’s all.”
He shook his hand, staying silent as you redid the last button and finally fixed his tie, straightening it out.
You smiled at him, resting a hand on his cheek, “There, nice and neat.”
He smiled briefly, leaning into your palm as it faded into a frown. You knew what he was going to say, already knowing you wouldn't agree to his terms, but deciding to compromise.
"You need to rest-"
"But I can't let you run things alone, so how about we work something out?" You suggested, moving to brush a falling hair out of his eyes.
"... But you still want to do all of the work alone, either way, right?"
You frowned, dropping your hands into your lap as you scowled at him.
"Harvey, do you know which fertilizers I use? Which crops are for shipping and which ones are for wines? The best fruits for making jams? When to check the tappers? Which crops are in season?--"
“Okay, okay--I get it," he shook his head, "You can keep running things, but only if you let me help and you take frequent breaks."
"Deal!" You exclaimed, grinning as you jokingly held out your hand for a handshake.
Harvey gently grasped it in his, pressing your palm to his lips where he left a soft kiss instead. You tried to fight the heat rising to your face, somehow caught off guard by his sweetness.
“So, you never said how long I’d been asleep,” you said, gently pulling your hand away.
“I don’t think you want to know.”
“Wait, what time is it?”
“You don’t want to know that either.”
You rolled your eyes, fighting the urge to weasel the answer out of him. It didn't matter if it had been a few hours or even a day. There was nothing you could do about it from here.
You sighed, suddenly overwhelmed by thoughts of the farm. Of home. You reached out to touch Harvey’s knee, drawing his attention.
“Can I at least be bedridden at home?” you asked.
He nodded, smiling weakly, “If you’re okay with me carrying you there.”
“As long as you don’t drop me,” you said with a weak laugh, but you knew he never would.
You just hoped your compromise would hold up once you got back to the farm.