"Slipper-socks," he repeated, grateful. The relief flooded onto his face once the word clicked in his brain. With the mystery solved, he could move on with his life- because otherwise, he would have been trying to remember it all day.
Rae's name was fairly apt. Her gratitude was bright living thing: a sunny spot in an otherwise dull, cold, and dreary infirmary. Places like this, without people like her, were nothing but muted surfaces and clinical detachment.
"I hate to break it to you," Jude said with a growing smile. "But you're not exactly ready to apply for your AARP card." To hear her say 'teenager' like it was eons ago made him smile, because the girl was edging twenty-five at the most. He'd been there too, having written off too much of his youth because his eyes were pointed solely forward. He wasn't trying to deny her life experiences, but it was strange to hear her talk like she was a grizzled war vet- even though she was one, just by being Immune.
When she thanked him for the blanket, he started unfolding it from his arm. When it was fully undraped, he put it over her legs, careful not to touch her and not to hover. He was closer to her legs than he was her torso when he let the blanket fall where it may. He resisted the instinctual urge to tuck it beneath her legs, because wow, inappropriate. "Ineffective is a good word... very accurate. I don't know why doctors seem to believe that sleeping underneath of drafty tablecloths is conducive to healing."
He backed up a step after the blanket was cast.
"You have quite the spirit." He meant it, even if he was feeling a weird disconnect. For a second, reality felt incredibly far away. It was like Jude wasn't sure who he was talking to, because knew it wasn't entirely Rae. Sure, it was Rae in the hospital bed, but he distinctly felt like he was talking about someone he actually knew. Looking at Rae was like looking at a photograph, but Jude wasn't sure if the picture was of someone he knew, or one of someone he just wanted to remember. "Alive is good. Death warmed over is better than death served cold." Despite the macabre wording, his tone was light.
"Oh no- we haven't met. There's no reason for you to recognize my name, either. I keep mostly to the Library." He casually offers his hand for an introductory shake. "I get injured and haunt hospital wards pretty professionally. I know how much it sucks to be here, and when I read about your 'adventure', I wanted to make sure that you were okay."
If anyone was being rude, it was Jude. He was charging into this girl's life, through her infirmary curtain, and hovering when she was clearly unsure who he was, or what his motives were. Rae was nothing but polite. "It's weird and probably creepy, but I promise it's just that I couldn't stop worrying about you. I kept talking myself in and out of coming here, but hypothermia is serious business. Especially in the winter."