Jerret woke up in the middle of the night, gasping for breath. His lungs felt as if they were on fire as he bolted upright, sweating. He struggled out of bed and to the bathroom, splashing cold water on his face. It helped a little but it still felt like he couldn’t breath.

He turned on the cold water in the shower and sat on the floor by the drain, not even bothering to undress. If he could just calm down everything would be fine but the dream hadn’t faded yet.

Someone knocked on the door back in the room and his chest started to hurt. “Mr. Jerret? I got an alarm from your monitor, I need to make sure you’re okay.”

He swallowed, trying to catch his breath enough to tell her he was fine and to go away. He could hear the door open while he was still gasping a little.

“I apologize for bothering you, but I have to have visual confirmation.” He could smell her a little, even under the water. She still smelled like peaches as she stood in the doorway, looking at him like he was an injured animal. He shut his eyes and forced himself to breathe slower, “Are you having a reaction to something? Can you breathe?” She took a step towards him and he shook his head, sliding back into the corner as his heart beat harder again.

“‘m fine.”

“Do you need something to help you calm down?” She looked down at one of the two bands on her wrist as it started flashing again, “I won’t force anything on you, I’m just trying to help.” She took a step towards him again and Jerret reached for a nearby packet of soap, throwing it at her in a panic. It missed her and smashed into the wall before falling into the sink.

“Get out!” He snapped at her, causing her to retreat to the other side of the doorway. Once she wasn’t in his line of sight he managed to pull himself together and calm his breathing. After a few deep breaths he stood up and shut off the water. She was still there, waiting, and he took his time attempting to dry off before leaving the bathroom.

“Better?” She asked as he sat down on the edge of the bed, still very wet.

“You can go now, I’ll be fine.” He grumbled, staring down at the floor.

“Does that happen often or is it a new problem?”

Jerret didn’t want to lay down or turn his back while she was here, so he said nothing and continued avoiding her gaze.

“That wasn’t an allergic reaction, and you don’t seem to have breathing problems normally. Makes me think it was a panic attack. Sedatives really can help with those.”

“You talk like your brother.” His heart had skipped a beat at the mention of sedatives but it hadn’t triggered the monitor again.

“That’s a thing twins do. You’re avoiding answering my questions but that’s not going to discourage me. I’ve dealt with reluctant patients before.”

“Shouldn’t he be here to protect you?”

She huffed and moved directly in front of him. The smell of peaches grew stronger, “Sam was asleep, as is everyone else. I don’t need someone to protect me from you anyway.”

Jerret turned his head to try and look out the window but she moved with his gaze and he met her eyes accidentally.

“It’s late, and I’m tired so I’ll make you a deal. I won’t keep pressing this tonight as long as you can promise me I’m not going to get another alarm.”

“Won’t happen again.” Jerret could tell she wasn’t entirely convinced, “It was just a bad dream.”

The partial explanation seemed to satisfy her somewhat and she relaxed, walking to the hallway door and opening it. “Alright then, we’ll discuss this more later. Try to get some rest. Good night, Mr. Jerret.”

“Night.” He waited until she had shut the door to stand up again, digging around in the drawers for some dry clothing. The sheets were a little wet where he’d been sitting but it couldn’t be helped. He turned the lights off and lay down again, staring at the wall. The smell of peaches still lingered and it took him what felt like an eternity to fall asleep again.


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