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It took every bit of inner strength to leave her and duck into the bathroom, but Bette returned with a armful of towels and damp washcloths to lean over Tina, who groaned and leaned forward on one elbow.
“Bette, I feel sick… my head hurts…”
Bette was just in time with a towel in place as Tina threw up again, dry heaving as her stomach emptied itself onto the towel. She lay back carefully on the pillow, moving gingerly, her face a painful mix of nausea and discomfort. Bette tossed the towel on the floor and then gently wiped Tina’s face and neck with a warm, damp washcloth, cleaning away the blood and the vomit and the stink, kissing her forehead and cheeks. She then cleaned Tina’s hands, kissing her on the palm of each when she was done.
“It’s ok, Tee. It’s going to be ok…” she said over and over again softly as Tina nodded lethargically and closed her eyes.
Bette had no idea if what she said was true, and she took a deep breath to fight back the panic that was threatening to overtake her, settling into her stomach like a lump to weigh her down in despair. Her own shivering was making it difficult to take action but she dug deep into the Porter well of stubbornness and forged on, getting every last trace of dried blood off Tina’s neck and hands.
“Bette?” Tina said weakly and Bette paused to lean closer so she could hear, her hair falling over Tina’s head like a canopy and soothing her.
“I’m here, Baby” Bette whispered, her forehead gently touching the side of Tina’s face.
“You ok?” Tina asked, her eyes still closed but the loving desperation in her voice settling low in Bette’s belly to warm her like a live coal. That Tina was asking about her in the midst of what could possibly be a miscarriage and a head injury after a near drowning floored Bette. She knew Tina loved her, knew it like she knew her blood type and her favorite coffee order.
But this, this… she realized then how strong Tina was and how much she fought for their relationship, how incredibly deeply Tina loved her.