“Shit. Okay, this is gonna sound really lame, but it’s a dog bite-ow!” I yelped when Max grabbed my arm and tugged it closer so he could look at my wound.
“Charlie, this is infected. Have you not been cleaning it?”
The other boy gently pulled up my sleeve and sucked air through his teeth. “Damn, dude. How long has it been like this?”
“Um...honestly, I’m not sure. I got it a week ago.” I watched him tilt my wrist from side to side curiously. “Why are you not freaking out right now?”
“Is there a reason I should be?” He mumbled, unwinding the rest of my gauze while being very careful not to touch the marks on my skin.
“Well, I have a bite wound.”
“And this is the zombie apocalypse?”
A smirk tugged up the edge of his mouth. “Uh huh?” When I gave a confused squawk, he chuckled and drew me over to the sink. “I’ve been with you for a little less than twenty-four hours. If it were a...zombie bite, I imagine your health would have declined a lot since yesterday. And besides, this is obviously more than a few days old.”
Max turned on the warm water and put my wrist under it. It hurt quite a bit, but he ordered me to stay still while he went off and gathered medical supplies from the huge stash we’d brought inside earlier.
By the time he returned, I was flicking the stream of water with my uninjured hand. He bopped my head affectionately and took my wrist from the water. Using a clean washcloth, Max patted the wound dry.
“So, how did this happen?”
I sat on the counter and watched him put ointment on the infected areas. The wound consisted of about a dozen punctures, some deeper and angrier than others. And it hurt like hell, especially as he was dabbing Neosporin on it. “Long story short, I got bit by a dog when I was out looking for Lucy.”
“That’s...definitely missing some crucial details.”
I winced when he poked a particularly tender spot. “Unfortunately, that’s about all I remember. Apparently I passed out; I woke up when the paramedics got there.”
“What kind of dog was it? It left a pretty big bite.”
I couldn’t recall the actual bite, or what happened after, but that damn dog’s face was burned into my memory. “Some sort of shepherd, I’m assuming. It was hairless, though. And all black, with these creepy gold eyes. The doctor said it was probably just some mangy stray, so I got my first two doses of the rabies vaccine...which was super fun.”
His eyebrows shot up. “You’re having a rough week, huh?”
“It could definitely have gone a lot better. And let’s hope that dog didn’t actually have rabies, because it doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to get my last two doses. It would absolutely suck to die of rabies when there are so many other exciting ways to die right now.”
Max snorted and finished applying ointment. As he wrapped up my wrist, I was able to relax in how soothing his touch was. And maybe it was the heat of infection and fever skewing my perception of temperature, but his fingers were comfortably cool against my skin as he held my hand still.
“Thank you, Max,” I told him gratefully. “For helping me out, and I guess for not murdering me in my sleep last night.”
His colorful gaze glinted playfully, and he reached up to muss my hair. “Same to you, I suppose.” A couple of curls fell into my eyes, which Max brushed to the side. His hand remained in my hair for a few seconds more before he realized how it might be perceived.
Of course, he blushed and jerked his hand back. “Sorry!”
Before I could speak, he had whipped around and was talking hurriedly about lunch. I just leaned back and watched him bounce around with a pleasant warmth growing in my chest.