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I awoke to the sound of running water and the smell of freshly-baked bread

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I awoke to the sound of running water and the smell of freshly-baked bread.

On the floor, next to the bed, there was a white carrier bag with EATALY printed on the side, and poking out of the top, was a generously-sized olive-topped focaccia that smelled like Heaven, or at least, my idea of it. My stomach, clearly feeling neglected, grumbled angrily. I hadn't eaten a thing since the pastries Ethan had given to me before our trip to the Basilica and I was struck then by the realisation that I had no bloody idea at all how much time had passed since.

So much had happened. Our journey through the wormholes. Getting inside the Vatican. St. Peter's Tomb. The Vaults. Here. Ethan. Me. Us.

It felt like we'd lost hours in this room, wrapped up in each other, attempting to satiate a hunger that never seem to dissipate no matter how much we fed it. If anything, the hunger just seemed to grow, all vulnerabilities and all fears cast aside until it became something wild and untameable, only stopping when our exhausted, sweat-slicked bodies were too knackered to go on.

Still feeling the aftershock of that exhaustion, I sat up, gathering the blanket around me as I stared in the direction of the source of the noise, rubbing my eyes to clear the sleep that still fogged my gaze.

On the opposite side of the room, there was a door I hadn't noticed until then and the more I stared at it, the more I was convinced it hadn't been there before. But there it was. A door, slightly ajar, a bright white light shining through the gap. The sound of the running water was coming from within.

Reaching over, I grabbed at the pile of clothes, sorting through it until I found my shirt, slipping it on and haphazardly doing up a few of the buttons. Padding warily towards the doorway, I peeked through the gap to see Ethan standing at a basin, brushing his teeth. Pushing lightly on the door, I stepped into a bathroom, gazing around wide-eyed at the shower in the corner, the toilet, the sink unit where he stood with his back to me.

While I'd slept, he'd been busy. It was small and basic, but it was real. I prodded a finger at the toilet cistern just to check. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to get used to how he could do these things, creating whole rooms out of nothing, rooms with furniture and showers and basins and doors.

Bending down, Ethan drank water straight from the flow running from the tap and rinsed his mouth, spitting it out into the sink, before raising his head and turning slightly to look back over his shoulder at me. My mouth dropped open, my gaze darting from his face down to his hands where they gripped the edge of the basin.

He was Ethan again. The Ethan I had first met. No blackened hands. No obsidian eyes. No tendrils of oily veins snaking down his cheeks.

I started towards him, grabbing his free hand as he used the other to wipe his mouth with a towel.  Flipping his hand over, I examined the fingertips and every inch of skin, before staring into his eyes, leaning closer as if it was some trick of the light and I was imagining the whole thing.

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