"She's waking up," I heard someone say loudly.
"Good," another voice responded. "Her vitals?"
"Stable, she'll stay awake this time."
I blinked my eyes, once, twice, three times. Each time I saw more light. And then there were the blurred faces, staring down at me. "What?" I whispered.
"Sahal?" Someone asked. "Are you feeling injured at all?"
My brain fired up for a minute, whirling and twisting around. But, I had no idea what the person was asking. Sahal. That was me. I knew that much. But everyone called me Chari. And why was I here? Where were my parents?
"Do you feel alright?" The voice asked again.
I tried to sit up, and with some difficult, succeeded. The world blurred more though, as blood rushed from my head, leaving tiny sparks behind as I sat up. There were white walls, shiny silver. And it smelled like antiseptic spray. I felt panic and bile well up in my throat simultaneously and trembled. I let my body strike out, my voice cry. Sometimes, my hands connected with something soft and once, I heard another voice match mine.
"All right," someone commanded. "Sedate her."
And then, here was a sharp sting as something entered my arm and I felt blackness again.
My next wakening was too preceded by voices. "Why am I here again?" This voice sounded male.
"A familiar face. She panicked last time. Maybe you'll help her remember."
I heard a rather deep laugh. And then, I flickered my eyes open.
"Chari," instantly, a hand was on my arm. "Chari, do you hear me?"
I paused for a minute, then listened to the man whisper. "Is this right?" There was an agreeable noise.
"Chari," the voice called my name again. That's right. I was Chari.
Now, I truly opened my eyes. Above me was a strong male face. He had curly dark brown hair, eyebrows that came too close together in the middle, pale skin. His cheekbones were well defined. And he was very, very close to my face.
I shrank back into the pillows below me. So I was on a bed, then. I just wanted a little space. So that I could breath.
"Do you hear me?" The man asked.
I managed a nod. "Who are you?" I asked, before I had even had a chance to think about it.
"I told you," the man snapped to a person hovering next to him. "She doesn't recognize me."
"But she's not going crazy," the person replied. "Keep trying, Gared."
Gared. Gared. That name, it sounded so familiar. I had heard it before. "Gared?" I croaked out.
His eyes flashed down to me. "Yeah. I- I'm Gared Low."
Then it slowly came back. I had been on a floor. There had been a needle. And I had that same vision, in two different places. He had injected me with something—twice? "Needles." That was all I could say. Then, "Bastard."
He laughed again, a deep throaty sound and it made me attempt a grin. "Do you remember where you are, Chari?" His face was, at once, very close to mine. I could smell the mint on his breath.
I wasn't sure. I was pretty sure that I didn't know. I might have known. But right now, all I could think about was his face. I smelled only his breath and saw only his eyes, boring into me. They were very pretty eyes- a deep black color, with almost girlish lashes.
"Chari?" He said my name again. I would have been silent only so that he would keep saying my name.
And then, he pulled back, suddenly angry. "Damn it," he spat. "I don't know this girl. She doesn't know me. This is not my job."
"Gared," the voice from farther away said warningly. I could now tell that it was female, only this time, it was softer, gentler than the other person.
I saw his face blanch. "Damn it." He muttered again, forgetting me. "Sorry, Lils."
The woman gave an angry growl, then she moved closer and her voice grew lower. "How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that?"
"Sorry, Lils," Gared broke off, realizing his mistake. "Sorry, Laelia."
I didn't think about how that too sounded familiar because I was using all of my strength to sit up. Finally, after several minutes of intense concentration, I hauled myself up into a sitting position. Gared and Laelia turned towards me, forgetting their little spat.
Laelia stepped back, before I could truly see her and instead Gared stood in front, blocking my vision. "Chari," he said my name again. "You really should go back to sleep. You- um, need your rest."
I almost laughed at that. "No. I want to know what's going on." This was so surreal. All I knew was that I was in some sort of white room and I had woken up in a bed. There had been needles before. And Gared. And- pain. I had forgotten about the pain.
"Are you sure about that?" Gared was stalling now. His face hardened for some reason and I saw him pressing his hand to his ear. Earpiece, I thought. Someone was talking to him.
I waited, while he was talking, hoping that he would finish, but at some point, Gared stood up and walked out the door, nodding to himself. I looked around for Laelia, but she had already left.
I was left in the room with a tall woman in a loose black jumpsuit. "Are you feeling better now, Chari?" She asked.
I nodded. "I just want to know what's going on." My eyes started to tear up and I wasn't sure why.
The woman smiled at me. "I'm sure someone will come explain in a minute," she promised. "Don't you worry yourself."
But, that wasn't enough for me. I lifted my right arm, to try and get out of bed, but when I swung myself over the side, a sudden numbness washed over my body. "What?" I asked.
The woman shook her head. "You feel numb, no? That would be the skin grafts. That shot certainly took out some of your side."
"Shot?" I asked. And my hand flew to my side. "Skin grafts?"
The woman pursed her lips and talked rapidly to someone I couldn't see. "I need a doctor here now. Or Reia. Someone needs to talk to this girl."