May 16, 2016 by Lyn
I’m not afraid of dying
But I am afraid of losin’ you
Maybe I’m addicted
I’m out of control
But you’re the drug
That keeps me from dyin’
She woke from a dreamless sleep to find the world too bright, too loud, and too sharp, the rough sheets against her skin unbearable. Beyond the sharpness, though, she noticed that she felt no other pain, that her body didn’t hurt, that there were no chains weighing her down. Was it real? Had Ambrus rescued them? Them… oh, god, where was Emrys? Moving her head sent needles of pain through her skull, but she did it anyway. Where was he? “Shahin?” His voice was so loud, so harsh! Why was he yelling at her?
She whimpered softly, but the need to touch him, to see him, was strong enough that she rolled over to look at him.
He lay on a bed next to hers, a separate small bed. Everything was white, blindingly so, the sheets and walls glaring against her vision, and she was forced to squint. His concern, however, was evident even from that view, barely more than a silhouette.
“I need a pill,” she murmured softly. A pill would stop the sharpness. But she needed Emrys, too. To touch him. She struggled to sit up, to reach for him.
“Easy, easy,” he screamed at her, though she could see his lips were barely moving. “Don’t strain yourself.”
“Shhhh,” she pleaded. The world spun unpleasantly, but she managed to sit up and scoot closer to him. “Everything is… ow.”
He reached out and punched her. No, that wasn’t right, he just barely touched her arm. Everything was so intense! If only she could get a pill, turn the world down a few notches.
She flinched away and closed her eyes. There. With one sense gone, maybe she could make a little more sense of the rest of them. She reached for his hand. “I need a pill,” she murmured, trying to be as quiet as she could.”
He took her hand in his, very gently, though it felt like scraping against sandpaper. “No, you don’t,” he whispered, the sound echoing loudly in her ears.
“Yes, I do.” she asserted. “Everything is too bright. Too loud.” She winced at the sound of her own voice and then, guilty, remembered what he’d looked like the last time she’d seen him. “Emrys….” She opened her eyes slowly, squinting again against the glare. “Are you all right?”
“I’ll be fine. We’re home. Well, at Caitrin’s, but back at Addergoole.”
She chuckled blearily. “You sound like him,” she complained. “All hedging and sideways answers.”
“We’re going to be okay,” he said, sounding more like he was trying to convince himself than her.
She stumbled to her feet and leaned on the edge of his bed, running her free hand over his chest, his shoulders, down under the sheet. Touching hurt, but she had to know for sure he was all there. “We have each other,” she told him. “We survived. You survived. I’ll be okay if you’re okay.”
“I’ll be okay,” he said, his voice catching just slightly.
She wanted to know what was going on inside his mind, but she didn’t want to push him too far, not with what they’d both been through. She leaned heavily on the bed, shuddering, as flashes of memory imposed themselves on her. “Emrys,” she choked, “our son…?”
“Caitrin said he’ll be okay,” he murmured.
“Oh, oh good. I..” She gulped softly. “I thought I’d lost him. I thought I’d lost both of you.”
“We’re here. We’re here for you, Shahin.” He seemed far more worried about her than himself, now that she was getting used to the tone of his voice again.
She gulped softly. “Emrys… you almost died.” She was baring all of her emotions, laying all her cards on the table, but it seemed too important, right now, to go playing games. “I don’t think I could have stood it if that happened.”
“But I didn’t. I’m going to be okay, Sheen. Right now we only have to worry about you.”
“Me?” She ran her hands down her body, wondering if the brittle brightness was making her miss something important. “I’m…” The monster’s hands on her, forcing her legs apart, forcing pills down her throat. Its knife cutting into Emrys’ skin, and her, helpless, watching every drop of blood. She heaved, though there was nothing but bile in her stomach to lose. “I’m fine,” she protested.
“You’re not fine, not at all. I saw… everything it did to you. I couldn’t do anything…”
“I’ll be okay,” she answered sharply. “I don’t want to think about it, Emrys. I just need a pill, and a little time. And some clothes.” They were both naked, under the sheets, and her sheet had fallen to the ground. “Or at least some gloves.”
“The pills…” He sighs. “Do you remember when Caitrin gave them to us, to me? What she said?”
She didn’t want to. She didn’t want to be rational about this. But… “Yes,” she admitted quietly.
“We have a problem,” he murmured. Now, of all times, he thought they had a problem? After all that they’d been through in the past weeks, and then the past… however long that had been, he thought this was the problem?
“A problem,” she parroted back at him. “The pills?” God, she wanted another pill.
“Yeah… I don’t really know for sure how that works. I’ve only heard about it.”
“It feels like my skin is going to be peeled off of me slowly if I don’t take another pill,” she offered helpfully.
He winced. “We’ll take care of you, Sheen.”
“Maybe just one more pill?” she cajoled softly. “I’m not sure I can handle this cold-turkey.”
“I don’t know how to handle it at all; we’ll have to talk to Caitrin.”
A cough from behind Shahin made both of them jump. Ignoring the pain, Shahin turned around quickly, putting herself between the intruder and Emrys.
Dr. Caitrin smiled at her. “There’s nothing to fear here, Shahin. Relax. How are you feeling?”
She snorted softly at the Doctor’s comment. “There’s just a lot less here to fear than that monster. That’s not the same as nothing.” She took a breath and did a quick inventory. “I-” want another pill “aside from the razor-wire feeling of the world, which-” means I need another pill now, please “-is probably the withdrawal from your lovely pain pills, I think I feel okay. A little wobbly. Emrys says our son is all right?”
“Yes, you’ll all be fine. Your son is healthy and well.” She pursed her lips. “The addiction will be unpleasant. Your rate of consumption of the blues exceeded what we studied in laboratory trials.”
Without the pills I can barely taste you. Broken little mutt. “I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter,” she snapped. Another pill would make her less… no. “How ‘unpleasant’ are we talking?”
“Well, I’m really not a hundred percent certain. As I said, even our overdose trials didn’t go that far.”
“Oh, good.” She shuddered against Emrys. “Is he okay? I mean… are we good enough to go home?”
“He can, yes. You may want to stay here for observation. You’re doing much better than I expected when I saw your bloodwork, but you may have problems interacting with normal situations.”
She reached blindly for Emrys’ hand, and barked out a laugh. “‘Have problems interacting with normal situations’ is the story of my life. We’ll get through it.”
“If you’re certain, then. But if you have any problems at all, come straight here. Stay away from energy drainers. And don’t take any kind of medication or drugs at all.”
She coughed softly. Without the pills I can barely taste you. “I, ah, don’t think energy drainers are a problem. But I’ll be good. And I’ll come here if I need anything.” Just please let us go home.
“Then you can go. But please, come back at the very first sign of trouble.”
“Yes, ma’am.” She stood to leave, holding out a hand, a bare hand, to Emrys. “Oh, ah. Clothes.”
“I can get some for you if you’d like. You weren’t wearing any when you came in.” Emrys took her hand, squeezing it reassuringly. Ow.
“I noticed. But I don’t think walking the halls naked is a brilliant idea for either of us. If you don’t mind…?” If she pretended everything was normal, she wouldn’t have to think about what that monster had done to them.
“Of course.” Caitrin nodded and departed, leaving them alone again. Shahin turned and wrapped her arms carefully around Emrys. She would worry about her objectivity tomorrow, or maybe next week.
He smelled like himself again, the tiniest hint of sulfur and brimstone around the edges of his tattoos. “Don’t ever leave me,” she murmured into his shoulder.
He slowly, carefully enfolded her in his arms. “I won’t, Sheen,” he whispered. “I promise.”