Kirill jerked upright with a gasp that dragged dusty air into his burning lungs, clinging to unfamiliar, unclean sheets. In a bed, in a room; not his bed, not his room. This house, Niko’s manor—
A hand pressed to his sore shoulder, firm and insistent. An unfamiliar voice said, “not so fast there.”
No, it wasn’t—it couldn’t be, but it was so familiar— Panicked, he clung desperately to the hand.
A second carefully caught his wrist and pulled it clear, fingers tight around the joint. “That won’t help. Take a deep breath, calm down.”
Unable to move, Kirill obediently froze until his throbbing head was able to form a single coherent thought. “You’re not Niko.”
The owner of the hands peered down at him, a narrow, angelic face topped with a wild mop of curly brown hair. He appeared to be around the same age as Kirill. “Not last time I checked, no. Pretty sure I’ve always been me.” Once he was sure Kirill would behave he relinquished his hold, flopping back into a rickety wooden chair beside the bed. “I pulled you out the rubble, don’t I get a thanks?”