Nihlus tried not to wince at the sound of the tool cutting through the cast that had covered his lower body for far longer then he cared to remember. But freedom was so close now. The doctors lifted the section off him and the air he sucked in seemed fresher, sweeter than before. He moved to sit up, but the human who had overseen his recovery put a hand on him, stopping that movement.
"You will be weak. Your muscles have atrophied, so take it easy. However, the bones that were broken, by all our tests, are stronger than before," Chakwas said.
He grinned at the thought of being able to move once more. She handed him a walking stick - where she had gotten it from he had no idea, but it fit in his hand perfectly. She gestured to some of the nearby medical assistants and they rushed over to help him to his feet. His legs felt weaker than a newborn, but he was upright even if he was leaning heavily on his stick.
"Any pain?" Chakwas asked as she hovered by his side.
"No, no pain. Just feel like a stiff breeze will knock me over."
Chakwas chuckled. "Let's avoid that, shall we? Think you can take a few steps?"
He nodded and forced his legs to move. Chakwas released her breath at his successful first step.
"Excellent. I'm going to send to your tool a list of instructions along with other exercises to begin with. Admiral Hackett is getting impatient for me to return to the Normandy, but I explained I couldn't leave until my last and favorite patient was released."
Nihlus's mandibles fluttered for a moment. "Favorite?"
"Shepard was a pain in the ass. You were so much more pleasant to work with. I left your cast on an extra day just to rerun the tests, but Shepard nagged me until I took hers off a week earlier than I wanted to. The bone weave took so much better than we ever expected. It shaved weeks off of your recovery."
"Released? Does that mean I don't have to stay in the hospital anymore?"
"Well, I would prefer if you had someone with you at least until your legs are stronger," she said.
Nihlus gave her a grin. "I think I can work with that."
"Nihlus." That one word was said with such a cacophony of feelings that it took him a moment to sort them all out.
Nihlus turned a little too quickly, but before he could do more than stagger a little, Saren hands were wrapped tightly around his arm, holding him up.
"Saren," Nihlus replied, his own voice thrumming with happiness. "The doc just freed me from the hospital."
Chakwas and the others melted away, giving the two of them some space. Saren leaned in to brush his brow against Nihlus's, breathing in his scent with a hum.
"Don't you think you should stay here, so the doctors can keep an eye on you?"
Nihlus growled a little. "I am not staying here. I want to be with you."
At Saren's hesitation, Nihlus's eyes narrowed at him. "What is the problem?"
"Spirits know I want you with me, but I'm in command of the garrison here now and I can't be with you all the time. What if something happened while I'm on duty? I would never forgive myself." His words were soft, barely audible.
"It wouldn't be your fault and what happened before wasn't yours either!"
"I just want what's best for you," Saren said. His arm never stopped holding Nihlus's, but Nihlus could hear the withdrawal in Saren's tone. He wasn't going to let him pull away.
"Then you walk me to the hospital while you are on duty and fetch me when you are off. I'll have the supervision you want me to have and we will have your off duty hours together. I need you," Nihlus said, his sub-tones begging the other man not to turn him away.
"Agreed," Saren said in a rush.
Nihlus smiled in relief. "Good. Now that that is settled, want to walk me to your quarters?"
"Our quarters - well, Desolas's old ones now that he is reassigned."
"Where did he go?" Nihlus asked as he moved slowly towards the exit, Saren's presence beside him as steady and constant as Menae in the sky.
"I requested to remain here, so the Primarch took him with him down to Cipritine while they work on coordinating all the projects in place."
Nihlus stopped for a moment, his legs beginning to quiver from the use.
"Too stubborn to admit you won't make it there under your own power?" Saren asked with an amused lilt to his voice.
When Saren moved closer to him, Nihlus held up a hand. "Don't you dare pick me up."
"I'm far too old to be carting your obstinate ass around. Here, lean against the wall, I'll be right back."
Nihlus tried not to let the indignity of being left like a piece of furniture against whatever wall was handiest get to him, but luckily, Saren was back in only a few moments with a wheelchair for him. He eased himself down into it with a little guidance from Saren.
"Oddly enough the doctor anticipated you would need this and had it waiting for me." A soft laugh came from the older turian.
"Okay, I may have overestimated my strength," Nihlus said with a sigh.
Saren laughed a little at that. "Although you won't be on active duty for a while, how would you like to take up some of your personal assistant duties again?"
"I'm counting on that," Nihlus said, the rolling purr in his voice sending heat coursing through Saren's body.
"That's not what I meant," Saren hissed out. "I doubt the doctor is okay with that sort of activity."
Nihlus pulled up his omni-tool and picked up the message from the doctor. He scrolled through the list and with a touch of a button sent it to Saren.
"Nothing on there about us resuming our relationship. My bones are stronger than before, just my muscles are weak."
"I -," Saren began.
"Don't say it," Nihlus ground out. "You just have to do all the work is all; in fact I think that sounds perfect." A soft hum of satisfaction came from him as Saren pushed him down the corridor.
"Alright, but then we go at my pace."
"Okay, but if I fall asleep it's on your head," Nihlus said, cocking his head to give Saren a grin.
Saren shook his head, trying to stifle the laugh that threatened to well up out of him.
"I see you got the walking stick I made you."
"You made this?"
Saren laughed at the amazement in his lover's voice. "Yes, I do have other skills you don't know about. I worked on it at night when I couldn't sleep. If you look at it, it has your name engraved in it. And hidden in the leaves you'll find my name."
Nihlus pulled the stick closer to his face to look at the engravings on the piece. He had been so happy to stand up before that he hadn't looked that closely at it. But there in beautiful handwriting was his name carved down one side. A wreath of leaves surrounded it and in each leaf was one letter from Saren's name. His fingers traced the letters, memorizing the feel of it. It explained why it fit perfectly in his hand and was just the right height. Saren had made it specifically for him.
"It's amazing and perfect, and now I know why. Thank you."
"I'm glad. It's from one of the trees downed during our fight. I thought it was fitting. However, I was serious about you helping me by resuming some of your duties. Victus is driving me crazy; he has an omni-tool now and is asking for reports about things going on in the galaxy. I tried to explain I am a little busy here, but he just says to get to it when I can. So now you can dig up all the information he wants and send him the reports and I can focus on making sure the site is secure."
"I can do that."
Saren couldn't help but notice that Nihlus seemed to straighten up at his admittance that he needed his help. He'd have to thank that soldier who had suggested that Nihlus take over the reports; it was just what he needed after being dependent on others so long. He stopped in front of one of the few rooms with an actual door. He opened it up to reveal a small area with a bed and a small sitting area with a desk and chair. He offered Nihlus a hand, which he gratefully took. Rather than help him to the bed, Saren wrapped his arms around him and buried his face into his neck.
"I'm better, really," Nihlus said even as he returned the embrace. The same relief he heard from Saren was echoed in his own subtones.
Saren didn't argue with him. As far as he was concerned this was an improvement, but until Nihlus was walking alone for more than a few steps he would disagree with that assessment.