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Turning Point

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It is a bad death.

Or, at least, it will be.

They’re in an alley, hidden behind crates and Nicolò is desperately trying to keep Yusuf conscious so that his body can heal. It is no use. They’re both splattered in the blood of the marauders from the street and Nicolò frantically tries to hold the wound in Yusuf’s thigh closed. It is nearly too large for that, a jagged slice in the skin and Nicolò is vaguely aware that he has started to cry.

On the street, they can hear the cries of the guards, searching everywhere for he and Yusuf and Nicolò’s stomach trembles at the dual terror.

“You are not allowed to die,” Nicolò hisses. Yusuf opens his eyes, woozy and going steadily more and more grey as blood wells from the wound. Yusuf winces as he touches Nicolò’s chest.

“I will come back,” Yusuf says, voice trembling, “I always come back, don’t I?”

“Be quiet,” Nicolò says, tearing his tunic to wrap it around Yusuf’s thigh, tears pouring freely as Yusuf stares at him. There’s flecks of blood on his lips and Nicolò does not know how to name this panic sweeping through him at the thought of life without Yusuf. Nicolò does not think of the dreams they have had of the women in the North, the women who still mourn a bright man with a smile who has stayed dead despite the gift given to them.

“I will come back,” Yusuf gasps. His lips are pale, paler than Nicolò has ever seen them and Nicolò gathers Yusuf to him, Yusuf’s back against Nicolò’s chest, holding onto him. It’s the closest they’ve been since this gift was given to them ten years ago.

“You had better,” Nicolò says, grimacing as Yusuf loosens the tunic around his thigh, allowing the blood to flow freely as the breath leaves his body. The blood slows as his body dies and Nicolò throws his cloak over them both as he holds Yusuf’s cooling body and hopes they look like vagrants.

The guards pass by after peering down the alley and Nicolò shakes from fear and the urge to cry crawls up the back of his throat as the guards keep walking. He hears them calling out for one another just as Yusuf gasps back to life, clawing at Nicolò’s arm desperately.

“Nicolò?” Yusuf whispers, shuddering hard before he relaxes into Nicolò. Nicolò can feel the rapid beats of his and Yusuf’s hearts and he wonders at the synchronization of them.

“I am here, Yusuf,” Nicolò whispers in response. Yusuf stays where he is and, shaken to his very core, so does Nicolò.