"Physically speaking she's in excellent condition. Better than expected, actually. Does she have a healing factor?"
"Um... I don't...?"
"I don't think so."
"She's lucky then. In any case, physically speaking she's just fine."
"What about.... about the rest of it?"
"We won't know everything until she wakes up, but I'm optimistic. She's got good responses. I'll check back in later, all right?"
"Yes. Thank you, doctor."
Footsteps. A door opening and closing. Silence, for a moment.
"She'll be okay, Marcia."
"I hope so."
"She'll be okay."
"I'm worried about us." A pause. "David... how are we going to afford all this? Medical bills..."
"I don't know. We'll sell the house if we need to. It's not like there's any choice. She's our little girl."
"I'm worried about her."
Quiet, fading into nothing.
Arin sat curled up on the couch, leafing through a book. It wasn't very interesting. His grandmother was in the kitchen, cleaning something unnecessary. The phone rang, and he heard her pick it up. "Gestalt residence. This is her mother. What? No! No...oh, god, no!" He'd sat up, looking into the kitchen. He'd never forget the look in her eyes, the horror and grief. The guilt, when she looked at him.
It faded away.
It remembered quiet. It wasn't precisely peace, but there was a quiet. Freedom was silence. It was the ability to choose, without directives enforced from something else. Some other creature, worming its way into its mind, piercing, breaking, caging. Always forcing it to do things. If it killed them all, it would be quiet again.
It wasn't nice to kill people, though. Everyone deserved a chance. A chance for things to be different. A chance to be different. A chance to be better. A chance to...
Something beeped, steadily mechanic. Kelly Sanderson stirred, opening her eyes. The ceiling wasn't familiar, white and strange. She shifted, and tried to sit up.
"Mom? You're..." dead? No. Wait, what? Her parents were fine. They were right here. Right... "Where... am I?"
"Mercy General Hospital. It's in Sioux Falls. South Dakota."
"Oh." Kelly thought about that. She had... no idea how she'd gotten here. Probably for the best, really.
"Honey... what do you remember?"
"Um." She did manage to sit up a little, rubbing her head. "I... tried to pilot a giant robot? It didn't like that." She thought about that. She'd been... she'd been Prism. Uh-oh. "Oh, shoot."
"Honey, it's okay, you're safe now-"
"But Dad, my secret identity..."
Her parents exchanged a look, then a smile. Her dad leaned over and kissed the top of her head. "Kelly, if that's the worst thing you're worried about, you'll be fine."
"Oh my gosh, everyone knows, don't they?" She leaned back again, and draped her arm over her face, "This is a tragedy! I'm gonna have to drop out of school and move to the Congo and spend the rest of my life eating bugs and I hate bugs. Don't laugh at me!"
"I don't think it'll be quite that bad. It's good to have you back."
Kelly peeked out from under her arm. "Can I go home yet?"
"Soon, probably. The doctors are going to want to ask you a few questions, just to make sure you're okay."
'A few questions' had turned out to be more like a million. Kelly wasn't sure how long they'd been asking her stuff. A lot of the questions were stupid, too. Currently they were in the middle of what does this picture look like? and it had been going on for probably six hundred hours. The sun. A house. An ice cream sundae. A cat. A superhero. A rhinoceros. An earthquake. A girl, kneeling. A dragon. A knife.
Blood. Arin stumbled back his eyes widening with shock as his grip loosening as the PEC slipped from his hands and fell towards the ground, sending up plumes of dust as it landed. His vision shivered as the ARMADA's optics unflinchingly enhanced his eyesight and gave him a sickening view of what he'd done. The deep red stains clearly visible as it soaked into the girl's shirt, the image searing itself into his eyes.
I didn't... I didn't mean to. I didn't know.
Rage. The fiery thing, talons stabbing. It hurt. Kill it. Kill it so it can't hurt again. Its jaw unhinged, moving to bite the annoying thing. Kill it. So close. The chains jerked back, pulling it away, forcing it back. Hatred. Rage. Then darkness and cold.
His head hurt. Arin shifted in the uncomfortable doctor's office chair. He'd been in a hundred chairs like this, and they were all the same. The doctor was looking at him, a set of cards on the table. He didn't really recognize the doctor, but that was no surprise either. There were too many of them, anyway, and none of them helped.
It was quiet. Was he supposed to be talking? Maybe he'd missed something. "What?"
Kelly? That was a weird question. He didn't really want to talk about Kelly. "I met her at the park," he said, because he knew that they weren't going to stop bothering him until he said something. The doctor didn't say anything, rather definitively. Arin shrugged. "She... seems nice?" Was that what they wanted to know?
The doctor stared at him some more. "Can... you... tell me your name?"
What a stupid question. They had it in all their files. He rolled his eyes. "Arin." He didn't feel like being cooperative. He shifted in the chair, staring out the window. The sunlight was nice.
A hand extended into the light, catching it. It diffracted, into a little rainbow on her fingertips. Kelly smiled. She probably shouldn't have been doing that, but hey, if her super-secret identity was going to be revealed anyway, she might as well have fun with it. She turned back to Dr. Michaels, who was staring at her, looking concerned. "What's wrong?"
He looked worried. Not about her, Kelly didn't think. She was fine. He was worried about Arin. Arin was... anything but fine. He'd been keeping it all locked up inside, but he knew. She knew. Oh. "Oh, sugar.. I'm sorry, Dr. Michaels, I don't know... I... that was kinda weird."
"Do you remember what just happened?"
"I... yeah. I'm sorry."
"He's a friend of mine."
"Are you Arin?"
"No! No. I'm not. I just... I remember being him." She shifted in the seat, bringing the rainbow in close. Her voice fell quiet. "I remember too much."
Concepts, Lore, & New Developments.
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