ELLIOT'S EYES WERE RED, his skin sallow and grey, but when he saw Lucy, she swore his face lit up like a Christmas tree

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ELLIOT'S EYES WERE RED, his skin sallow and grey, but when he saw Lucy, she swore his face lit up like a Christmas tree.

She stepped into the room with a tight-lipped smile, nodding at Elizabeth, who merely slipped past her and left, shutting the door.

The room was so quiet, aside from the beep of Elliot's pulse on the monitor. It ascended with every step Lucy took toward his bed.

His stare flitted from her eyes to the doll in her hands. Just before she came in, she'd made a quick run to the gift shop to grab him something. 'cause that's what he'd done for her when she was in the hospital, and if Lucy could pick anyone to be like, it would be Elliot.

He was irrevocably kind and sweet. Maybe he wasn't perfect, after all, but that just reminded her that he was real, that he lived, that he breathed. 'cause people weren't built like dolls; they weren't crafted to be flawless or to fit into a mould. They were made to have souls –and Elliot had the best of them all.

Once at the bed, Lucy held up the stuffed animal. Elliot accepted it and put it on his lap, reminding her of a little boy, his childlike candor lighting up her whole heart.

"It's a moose," he said.

"Yeah." She smiled awkwardly. "Like... Elliot Moose."

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Really? I didn't quite catch that part."

"Shut up," she grumbled. "It's not funny."

He hugged the animal. It was blue, probably meant for a baby, but it looked good on him.

"I think I'm still a bit high, to be honest," he said.

Lucy narrowed her eyes. "That's not funny, either."

Elliot leaned back and grinned. "Wanna know how I survived?"

She nodded.

"I bought these pills from my dealer, and he slipped some vitamin C in there. Doctor said if they'd all been real, I probably wouldn't've made it." He released a stiff laugh. "On the plus side, I probably won't need to eat another orange for a while, which is good 'cause I hate oranges."

Lucy laughed, lighthearted and content. That was Elliot; always making fun of the most serious of situations.

"I know you do," she said.

They fell quiet. Lucy sat on the edge of the bed, just close enough for his leg beneath the white sheet to brush her hip. She faced him, leaning over him slightly, and he stared up at her. Tears welled in his icy blue eyes, glossing them over, making them look like puddles of rain on the ground.

Sunken cheeks or not, he was still so beautiful that it stabbed her heart. She tore her eyes away from him, her chest fluttering.

"Last night," Elliot began. "I really scared you, didn't I?"

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