Authors Note: This is the re-write of Under the Skin. I decided to have some fun and re-do it, delving more into backgrounds and adding details. If you would like, you can compare each story tot he other, as I have gotten requests from several original readers to leave the original fanficiton up on the site. Already this one is longer than the first, and i hope it's more detailed, and just as, if not more so, enjoyable as the first. Character profiles will be available at a later date on my Deviantart account. At certain points of the story, i will place a link so that you can follow it if you choose to.
Thank you for reading, I hope that you will enjoy it.
Under the Skin
It was everywhere.
He couldn't breathe,
Hacking as he inhaled more smoke, he stumbled along over obstacles on the ground and his own feet; the heat from the flames surrounding him was unbearable… but he wasn't looking for a way out.
He was looking for a way further in.
Watering eyes searched his surroundings frantically, searching, searching for something very close, and very dear to him.
Pausing to cough again, desperate to get clean air into his lungs, he doubled over against his knees, legs shaking as it was. He looked up, wiping not sweat but the last of the tears his watering eyes could make from his vision, though it didn't help to clear his sight as he tried to see through the haze of smoke and shadowy, charred forms of trees or beams… he couldn't tell which they were.
He forced himself on, burning his hands and legs as he moved, starting to panic as he felt time running out for both him and the thing he searched for. His breath came in ragged gasps, coughing more than he could breathe in. He was completely dehydrated, his skin starting to bake, he could feel it.
There was a massive crash of splintering wood to his right and he was barely able to dodge the mass of charred wood as it landed right where he had been. It took all he had to stand up again, and froze; a smile spreading across his face as he saw a glimpse of white, tainted only by the soot of the fire, dashing away from the mess. He'd found it. He'd found what he'd been looking for, and it was safe…. Relief flooded him and he felt a new surge of energy as he followed it,
As he rounded a bend, that energy seemed to drain from him in an instant as he froze in his tracks. The white object he had been chasing, a shiny Eevee, was frozen in terror several yards in front of him, cowering before several dark figures with guns, who were seemingly unaffected by the fire licking at their bodies.
A scream of refusal ripped from his as he lurched forward, but found himself fastened to the spot by more black men who appeared out of nowhere. He screamed and struggled against them; watching in horror as the Eevee, tail tucked between its legs, ears lying flat against its head, was surrounded.
There was a sharp prick on the inside of his right elbow as he came close to pulling loose from his captors. To his despair, he crumpled immediately, looking up as flames rose between him and the pokemon, now being carried away from him by the scruff of its neck. He made another futile attempt to get up before he blacked out.
At first a light beep reached his ears, muffled still, but growing louder, soon joined by many voices, some serious, some frantic. The next thing he felt was pressure on his face, arms and legs, and then he could sense the people he could hear around him. Their shuffling feet and faint voices were all he had to go off of, and even that confused him; it seemed like so many…
What's going on?
No one answered, they kept buzzing about as they were, sometimes touching his neck or wrist, rattling something above him, a cool hand on his forehead… it was all the response he got.
Where am I?
Still, no one answered. They kept bustling around, though the number of sounds diminished, and an echoing click sounded. He wanted to open his eyes, see where he was and what was going on, but he couldn't seem to remember how to even do that. Just as he felt panic grip him again even through the haze, another click and an old, familiar voice came to him; just as something was removed from his face and the pressure was released from his arms and legs as the beeping slowed.
"What's going on?" Asked this new voice; it was old and weary, tired from lack of sleep, perhaps.
"Just another nightmare, Professor." Came another weary voice, though slightly different in tone. "He's calm again, however, and should be fine until morning. No IV's were ripped out, so that's good. It was a good idea to keep someone in here with him at all times. This one was more violent than some of the others, I'm wondering if he's starting to come around…" The voice trailed off, and silence hung in the air, until there was a sigh.
"Can I stay with him for the rest of the night?" asked the first voice. There was a heavy pat, and a muffled ruffling sound.
"Professor… you needn't ask." Replied the second; still muffled but a little clearer. "Stay as long and as often as you need too. I don't think he's been without any of you this entire time. Just hit that buzzer if something, anything, happens." The voice said again. Nothing followed but a few footsteps and a click, leaving the beep and his own breathing to fill the silence.
After a moment, there were more footsteps, and the owner of the first voice sat heavily beside him. A sigh sounded as he felt his hand moving, being held by a gentle, weathered one that felt so familiar, and his tired mind struggled to place it. The rough fingers stroked his skin, sending little electric sparks up his arm, and making the beep speed up a little, before it slowed again, becoming more conscious of that hand, forgetting he even had more of a body than that as he tried to hold onto that little bit of feeling.
"Please be okay, Gary, wake up soon, we all miss you."
Gary… his name was Gary… the information seemed to float up from the depths of a murky pond, and he almost fished it out, holding onto it desperately, whispering his name to himself over and over in his mind as the other kept talking. Next it was as if he put his hands right into the water, fishing around and stirring it up as he tried to place the voice of the person beside him.
Then suddenly, it was there. His hands hit that word, that name, and he hauled it to his bank, clutching it, placing it in the missing spot of the puzzle beside him. He didn't realize he was trying to open his eyes to see the face he knew so well until dim light flooded his unaccustomed irises. After a moments blindness, he was able to focus on that face, and his hand tightened around the one holding his, making the man jump and look at his face, hope shining from every surface. It hurt him to see this man like this… so frantic to hope he could see some reaction from himself as he lay there, afraid it'd come crashing down again, but this time was different.
Gary managed a small smile, trying to tighten his weak hand a little more. "Gramps…" He whispered, voice cracking terribly from misuse. His grandpa stood, holding his hand in both of his own.
Gary smiled weakly at his grandfather, barely able to open his eyes any further than they were.
"Hey…" He said softly, feeling sleep start to grip him, induced by the drugs he'd been given. Professor Oak leaned over his grandson, patting his head, pressing a button on a little switch hanging beside the bed.
"Stay awake for just a moment longer." He said, voice slightly choked with emotion. Gary nodded, fighting to keep his eyes open. "You've been asleep for a long while… you'll be alright now though." Gary looked at him again, seeing so much relief in the old wrinkled eyes, and a spark of renewed life and hope. "It's good to see you again, Gary." He said Gary smiled
"Good to see you too." He murmured as the door opened, admitting the doctor who had probably been on the other side of the floor, getting ready to leave. He took a look at his patient and grinned, coming over.
"You're looking great, kid, you really are." He said, checking pulse, temperature, and other vital signs, taking notes. He asked a few questions Gary tried to answer but he was fading fast, and his voice trailed off into a barely legible whisper. The doctor nodded and patted both Gary and Oak's shoulders as the young man drifted off again.
"He'll wake up again, don't worry."
Was the last thing he heard before he faded into darkness.
"Yes… Yes. I know. He's doing better then?"
"He is. Freedom said he just woke up."
"Oh that's a relief!" The speaker fell back into a chair at his desk, running a hand through his hair. "You should have seen him that day, mangled beyond recognition. I didn't think he was alive…"
"Well, he is. And Freedom, that son-of-a-bitch, has got his face back and most of his burn scars are gone. There are a few other ones from past fights that he's going to carry for a while." the person on the other end of the conversation grinned, his face showing up on the first speakers computer screen. "Everything is going smoothly, and I'm loving it."
"I bet. Damn Justice, ever since you came to me you've been on fire about this."
"Well yeah! We've been working at this for years, and the moment we can do something, shit hits the fan and we almost loose them. Speaking of which Integrity, any sign of ah…"
"No, none. She might not remember the-… hang on." Integrity stood slowly. He'd heard something outside the door. Justice leaned one way futilely, hoping to see something. Integrity moved to the front door, and his knees almost buckled in surprise. Speak of the devil and he shall come! He opened the door quickly and not a moment after, had his arms full of a sobbing young woman who looked as if she had been through hell for the past three months. He held her tightly for a moment, if only to hide his excitement. He then led her past the sitting room, so that Justice could see, and got her to lay down. When he returned, he and the other exchanged grins, gave each other a thumbs up, and ended their call. Integrity stood with a feeling of accomplishment, while Justice whooped excitedly where he was.
Finally, the pieces of the puzzle were starting to fall again.