Hello there and welcome to the first chapter of Bitter Medicine. This is an old idea I got the summer of 2017. I was driving a lot between work stations and where my family was. While on the road for hours at a time I got this idea, spawned by a New Found Glory song I listened to. I wrote the first chapter and plotted the basis of the story but kind of put it in story limbo as other ideas took over my mind. As I finished up Broken Promises the idea came back and I decided to give it another chance at life. So here we go I hope you enjoy it and stay tuned for more, it will really pick up in pace after the first couple chapters.
Chapter 1- I don't know anything.
I'm drowning, or at least I think I am. Cold darkness pressing in from all sides, pulling me down, deeper and deeper until the surface is a distant impossible thing. Why should I fight it? Is anything really waiting for me? Would anyone even notice my loss?
Deep down I feel that is wrong, my disappearance will be noted, and death grieved. Though I don't know by whom. Breathing is the only thing keeping me anchored in this life. That has to count for something right?
It's not water I'm sinking farther into, but something is wrong. My body is heavy and sluggish. Struggling seems useless as the light and sounds from the surface fade more each second that passes in this bleak place.
Nothing is right. I'm stronger than this, or is it all too much?
My grip is slipping fast. Why don't I just give in? Those once steady breaths now become weaker and more irregular. Numbness consumes my consciousness, like parchment in a hungry flame. Up is down. Right is left. Black is white. Light is dark.
The distant hum of voices and strange noises is almost gone now. Peace sets in as I sink father into these unknown depths.
A bright flash of pink light fills the darkness, searing my tired eyes. Just let me go.
Pounding steps and quick breathing, like that of someone running, break the impossible silence. It's not me. I barely inhale now. A voice calls into the darkness, but it's jumbled in my nearly deaf ears. They call a name into the black void. It feels important. I try to make sense of it, pain blooms behind my eyes and I want to sink back into the nothingness trying to consume me.
The voice is more frantic now, tears in each call. A viselike tightness takes hold of my heart. Easing their pain is worth suffering through my own. Somehow with strength I didn't know I had, I fight upwards. A new sharpness stabs like a knife in my side, but sluggishly I push back. Light overhead is now brighter, the clamber of noises louder.
Running in the darkness, they feel so close. I reach for her and green eyes filled with relief, almost stop time itself, but then she is gone.
Their loss is a new or old ache I don't know. I bolt upright breaking through the surface. Bright, burning white light fills my vision. Hands on my arms and legs, try uselessly to still my thrashing. The noises pound through my throbbing head. Shouting voices and shrill beeping fill my ears.
"Hold him down."
"We have to stop the bleeding."
"You are safe now."
"He's pulling out the lines!"
The one calm voice tries to sooth my fighting with words not strength. Blurred movement clears in my vision, and I can see a group of people in solid colored, loose fitting clothing. Working on or around me, but with all the hectic actions one woman remains by my side. I focus on that attentive face, and the rest begins to clear.
"Hello there." Her voice is low and even, soothing. "We've got you now. Can you tell me your name?"
My throat burns as I try to talk. I hurt everywhere, but the worst part is the void where my mind resides. I don't know. I don't know my name. A complete blank exists as I try to pull on something, and fail. How is that possible?
A painful pounding at the back of my head thrums with the beat of my heart, and I reach there to feel the wound. Strong hands grasp mine without force, guiding my searching fingers back to the flat mattress.
"It's okay." The woman shows a small smile, trying to reassure me. "You have a pretty solid concussion, so it's normal to experience some memory loss. It should all come back as the swelling recedes."
Some of her words are foreign to me, but I understand one thing. Normal. She's not surprised, so I shouldn't be worried, right?
I'm calmer so the movement around me isn't nearly as frantic. The others move as a unit, wrapping bandages, checking strange boxes with illuminated numbers, hanging clear bags filled with fluid.
"W-what happened?" My throat is raw and sounds strangely rough. I don't know my name, how old I am, where I am from, or how I got hurt. Somehow, I do know what the sound of my own voice should be. I understand words, and emotions, but everything having to do with my past is a complete blank.
Something flickers in the woman's eyes that I can't read. "We don't know." Before I can try to speak again, she adds quickly. "You were found outside the Emergency room doors. Some people say there was a bright light right before you appeared, but it could have just been headlights from a car before it sped away. You have several broken ribs, your right shoulder was dislocated, a stab wound to your left leg reopened the artery when you woke up, and the head trauma."
"Accident or attack?" I ask knowing that with the long list of injuries the first option is unlikely.
She shakes her head slowly. "We don't know, but I can tell you if you hadn't received medical treatment… well it's a miracle regardless." Patting my hand one last time she stands from a crouch that kept her near eye level. She reminds me of someone, but I have no idea who. "Don't worry we will take good care of you."
I watch her as she holds a quiet conversation with the others. Could this woman remind me of a family member, friend, or lover? The last seems impossible, though I seem to trust her over the other nameless faces that surround me, there is no attraction. Somehow my heart belongs to another, possibly a green-eyed girl, though unlikely.
I'm poked, prodded, wrapped, evaluated, and after what seems like forever without actual answers I am taken to a pale walled room as blank as my memories. This will be where I must stay until they medically clear or someone claims me.
I hate this. I know that at least. I don't do well with the silence or restrictions. Being hurt makes me feel weak, and I refuse to be seen as pitiable. Something churns, a memory maybe. It feels so real; blood dripping into my eyes, cuts stinging red hot pain all over my weary body, the struggling steps forward, followed by pain ripping apart my back. Then nothing, darkness, could that have been what happened to me today? No, it feels older this strange painful memory.
Then I've been hurt badly before. Maybe I should rethink my life choices, before I end up dead. Musing over how I've been hurt doesn't seem to be helping me remember my name, but anything is better than the blank blackness of my mind.
Another round of checks passes, and after a caretaker, or healer maybe, presses something on one of the strange boxes, my head begins to feel as though it were both heavy and floating at the same time. I wake some time later to darkness and soft murmurs.
Two people stand outside my door talking in hushed voices, but I can still make out a bit of the conversation.
"-two teens arrived unconscious this morning."
"Runaways? Or lovers?"
"Don't be so dramatic. They weren't together. The girl passed out while running during physical education class. She swears it's just anemia, but her parents insist on a full work up. They say it's happened before."
"What about the other?"
"A boy around the same age was left bleeding and broken right in front of the ER doors. He can't seem to remember his name or anything, and no one saw how he got there."
I know they are talking about me, but I wish they had new information. Still not being the only topic of gossip makes me feel better, if only slightly. It gives me something else to think about, other than the mystery surrounding everything I can't remember.
Absently my hand goes to the bandages at my chest and finding something missing my heart begins to pound erratically. I don't know what is gone, but it's loss starts a panic. I have to find it! If I lose it I might as well have lost her forever. Green eyes come to mind, but nothing else.
I've started to climb from the strange bed. Ripping roughly at translucent strings attached under my bruised skin. With a sharp stinging, I pull one attached to the back of my hand, blood wells from the spot as I toss it all aside. Everything hurts, but not nearly as bad as the panic
The women who chattered like old ninnies' earlier rush into the room trying to urge me back into bed.
"It's gone!" I gasp, and fight strike out like a wild animal. "It can't be gone!"
One of the caretakers, nurses, others have called them, presses a square on the wall speaking into it. Requesting something called orderlies. The other tries to calm me like the woman this morning, but she has little effect.
"What is gone?" She asks trying to be helpful, but it just makes my throat tighter.
"I don't know!" I growl angrily. Rage filled at her uselessness, at my own inability to remember, and at the weakness dragging at my limbs. I thump my chest hard enough to send more pain shooting through the bound ribs. "It should be here, but it's gone!"
The other nurse who had been calling for help gasps audibly. "Your necklace?" Without waiting for a response, she goes to a small box built into the far wall. Pressing a few things there is a beep, followed by a tiny door swinging open. Removing a small clear wrapped item, she hurries back just as two large men enter the room. "Is this it?"
In her hand is a pink stoned pendent on a thin gold chain. Instantly the fight drains out and I am left tired and hurting. While I was battling none of it registered, but now my abused body protests, and I let the men move me back into the bed complacently. "Please," I beg weakly. "I can't lose it. That is all I have left of her."
"It's protocol to place all valuables and personal effects in the safe." She wavers looking into my eyes. With a sigh, she tore the protective sheet around the jewelry. "If something happens to it…"
"It is my responsibility." I respond quickly sitting up straighter then my cracked ribs appreciate.
Without another word, she dropped the stone into my wavering, yet outstretched hand. Instantly I felt the tightly coiled anxiety in my chest relax. "Thank you."
They go about sticking a new needle in my other hand, bandaging the self-inflicted injury, and cleaning up the mess I made during my panic attack. Calmly I clasped the thin chain with fumbling fingers, but it was something I could manage on my own.
Before the group returns to their duties the woman who gave back my pendent pauses thoughtfully. "If you don't mind my asking have you started to remember? Do you know your name?"
I shake my head wishing it wasn't the truth. "I've gotten a few things. Like I remember being hurt before, I'm not sure when, maybe last year. I knew something important was missing, but not what." At that I touch the unusual pink stone resting on my bandaged and aching chest.
"You said something that made it seem like you might be getting closer to remembering." She said evenly watching for my reaction.
"No, what was it?" Did they think I was faking memory loss, as if I was running from something terrible?
"When I held your necklace you said, 'I can't lose it. It is all I have left of her.' Do you remember who gave you that necklace? It may be a key to helping your memory come back quicker." I can't remember what or who I was thinking about, but she may be right. The sudden emotions I felt when realizing that the comforting weight was missing triggered a very quick response.
"Sorry." I mumble, as crest fallen as the nurse that I can't remember more. Not of who I was before this morning, or of the person who obviously meant so much to me.
"Don't try so hard." That shocks me slightly. I thought the sooner I regained my memory the better. "We want it all to come back to you, but the mind is a complicated thing. You can't force something like this. The damage will take time to heal both physically and mentally. Trying to force things will only make matters worse. Even the little bits you've already started to regain are very impressive. I know it doesn't seem that way now, but it will get better."
I wanted to believe in her optimism, but it seems like a few drops of water in an ocean. Before leaving she offered to turn up something called morphine, to ease my pain and help me sleep, but I declined. If that is what they did last time I'd rather my mind not have anything else to complicate things. I hope sleep comes naturally then maybe dreams, memories will too.
They also offered to turn on something called T V, which I also turned down. Mainly because I had no idea what it was and it seemed odd to ask. Instead I turned my pounding bandaged head towards the large window that took up most of one wall. The one moon in the sky shone brightly, but it seemed so wrong to me. Were these the same stars I watched by campfire? I can almost feel the long grass tickling my neck, as I lay back on the forest floor. A torn pink dress, long athletic legs, and strange footwear; as her voice told of a world I could never imagine. An alien planet, one where she still had a loving living family waiting for her.
With a sharp pain not in my head, but in my heart, I remembered more about the girl. Her name and mine still were stuck in the void of my injured mind. I fell asleep not thinking about the short length of her dress, but how her voice sounded calling my name in warning, anger, confusion, worry, and love. It was right there, but just like her, impossible to reach.
I woke to morning light no closer to knowing my name or past than when I fell asleep. The new day brought no extra revelations, other than dampness on the collar of the gown I was forced to wear. It seems I was crying in my sleep, but don't remember what could have caused that emotion. This is just a frustrating repeat of every moment since waking here, injured and a complete blank.
I may not know who I am, but my thoughts are clear and focused. Cataloging my injuries and contemplating my next move, absently I watch the long shadows thrown across the glossy floor. The strange vertical window hangings make it look almost like watching from inside prison bars.
How do I know that? What kind of person was I? Is it possible that I am some sort of criminal, with knowledge of being incarcerated?
If you add that new bit of information to what I know of this bad habit of mine to get severely injured, well maybe it would be better not to remember. This could be a blessing in disguise. A real chance for me to start a new, less complicated life.
The nurses seem busy this morning, so I watch them scurry purposely back and forth. A middle-aged woman with light brown hair pulled tightly away from her face with some sort of head band, tried to politely get someone's attention. Her forehead is lined with worry, but her eyes appear kind.
"Excuse me." She starts finally able to get someone's attention. "I'm here to visit Kanzaki in room 311, but she isn't there."
"Relation?" The nurse asks absently.
"She's my daughter." The woman states evenly, though I can tell the rudeness bothers her.
"Kanzaki," Repeating the name slowly while doing something behind the desk that makes a light clicking sound as her hands move with a singular goal. "Ma'am you can wait in her room, she should be done with the cardio stress test shortly."
"How many more tests are scheduled?" The worried mother asks expectantly.
"Let me check." A few moments pass in silence aside from the faint tapping. "That should be the last one. Once the results are back a doctor will be in to see you. If everything is negative your daughter will be discharged sometime this morning." The other possibility hangs in the air heavily. If something is wrong she will have to stay longer, like me.
With thanks and a bow, the woman disappears into the room next to mine. It's easy to deduce that my neighbor is the only other person here around my age that mysteriously passes out.
I wonder about her circumstances, surely she woke knowing her past. Somehow, I think this girl is very lucky, despite the slight similarities to our situation, it might have to do with the loving mother worried and waiting in the other room.
Why do I feel as though I wouldn't have that, even if I hadn't lost who I was before yesterday? Maybe the reason no one has come for me is that there isn't a soul out there that cares. The thought feels wrong, someone must love me, miss my presence, right?
If there a person out there worried by my disappearance? How can they find me if they don't know where to look?
Steps and chatter echo down the hall growing louder as they near. This is assuming that the girl next door is returning from some sort of test, I am curious about her. Honestly, there isn't much else of interest for me other than people watching, and the various workers repetitive motions don't entertain me for long.
Listening attentively, most of the talking comes from the nurse. "I've sure you'll be able to go home soon." The woman chatted busily. "That looked more like an Olympic tryout, not a stress test. If I were the betting kind, I'd place all my money on your heart being just fine."
"You're too kind." A younger voice responded, and somehow, I knew it. The sharpness of that familiarity taking my breath away. It's the running girl I dreamt of. If anyone knows who I am it's her, right? But what do I say? Hello, I don't know who I am, or who you are, can you tell me? "I'm not that good, running just helps clear my head." Her voice seems shy and I can almost imagine a slight flush to her cheeks, even though I can't remember what she actually looks like beyond the bright jewel green of her eyes.
They've come closer and I'm frozen in place. What if I'm mistaken and she doesn't know me? What if I just bring the danger to her, after all whoever hurt me is still out there, right?
I feel brittle as thin ice, ready to shatter under any pressure. Despite my thoughts to leave her out of whatever mess I am wrapped up in, my eyes are still steadily watching the door. She'll have to pass by, any second.
First, I see feet wearing plain slippers. Followed by long slender runner's legs. She was sitting in one of the wheeled-chairs being pushed by the chatty nurse. As much as a normal guy would have continued to scan up her fit body, but her chest came into view the same time her face did and that was all that really mattered.
I can't breathe, stunned by the familiarity of her eyes. The same gemstone colored ones that convinced me not to sink into the darkness, saved my life. The girl hasn't seen me yet, and I've not figured out what to say if anything.
My hand goes to the pendent on my chest on reflex, the moment skin contacts the smooth stone. Something strange happens, a pulse of light flared, quick as a passing thought. It only took a second, most people wouldn't have noticed it, but the girl's head snapped in my direction as if I called her name. With a sharp gasp, she is out of that chair and flying across the room.
Arms wrap around my neck, her warm form pressed into me, and the pounding of our hearts seem to be beating in unison. What shocks me the most aside from the sudden embrace is the breathy voice in my ear.
"Van, I can't believe you are here." She pulled back finally, realizing where we are, and what condition I'm in. "Oh god, what happened."
"I don't know." My head throbs painfully, but flashes of images and emotions speed through my mind. Still I can't remember anything solid, well almost nothing. "I was hoping you could tell me, Hitomi."
To Be Continued…
A/N- Well I hope you liked it. I didn't want to mention which song inspired this incase you knew what it was about. It's called Listen to my Friends, it's about a guy that wakes up in an ER not knowing what happened to him, but pieces together that his friends warned him about a girl and they were right.
Anyways I know it seems a little disjointed, but that's the point. Van's lost his memories and is running mainly on emotions and actions. He's had a hard reset to his mind and we will see him piece things together as it goes along. This story takes place between six to eight months after the end of the war and Hitomi was sent home. Depending vastly on how long Hitomi was on Gaia. I like to believe that the series started shortly after April when Van would have turned 15 and come of age. In this story I have her returning in fall and that the time difference has been canceled out by the connection they maintain over the distance.
So now they are a little older, but this is a sweeter more innocent story they my last one. I hope you stay tuned and give this one a chance even with it being more PG. Please Review and let me know what you think.