I have a thing for nightmare aftermaths. So here’s one for a couple characters. Sorta superheros, like Arvin and Violet and August, but a separate group.
An instant before Garnet comes awake, it starts, and by the time she’s even slightly aware, she’s gone too far in to get out. Her breath is coming ragged and too quick, well into hyperventilation, and she can’t remember how to fix hyperventilation. Garnet can smell and taste blood and she gags, and then she’s throwing up. She wheels away, reels off the bed. Her shoulder and head catch against the post—since when has she slept in an actual bed, where the heck is she?—and she feels something tear and nearly screams in pain.
She’s on her feet, not even sure where she’s going—where is she, she knows she’s been here before—slams down a hallway, unable even to keep quiet. She’s going to get herself killed like this and she knows it, but she just can’t seem to stop. And there’s no air, or maybe there is, and she just can’t get to it and—bodies, scattered, on the floor, when she blinks, then they’re gone, and there again—
She’s out of her mind, has to be.
She slams through a door, hurting herself even more on something sharp, what she doesn’t know, in the process.
She gasps a name, a name which barely registers until a person sits up in moonlight, shocked, says her name aloud, and she realizes she’s in Ben’s room. And she doesn’t know why she’s here or how she got here, but she can’t even breathe, and she needs him.
“Garnet, what the—”
“Panic attack—” Garnet barely manages to say before she’s on her knees, throwing up on the rug again, blood in her mouth and now sticky on her hands. “Blood.”
“It’s not real—” But when Ben reaches out to touch her, she recoils; he flicks on the lamp, she screams in pain, her eyes burning. He switches it off superfast, but it was long enough for him to see whatever’s wrong with her, because he’s touching her—gently, oh so gently, what in the world did she ever do to deserve something like that?—trying to find where she’s hurt.
She can’t remember. But she’s so scared and terrified and she can’t breathe and Ben needs to tell her how and she can’t register how to get him to do that. He stops trying to find her wound, realizing probably that she needs air more.
“Garnet.” He shoves her hands over her mouth—he’s cutting off her air, what is he—oh. That’s how you stop hyperventilating. Air sucks up through her hands and back out, like a warm, wet vacuum. There’s too much to smell and her mouth tastes repulsive and the flashes of her dream keeping hitting her like trucks but Ben is talking, and as he talks, the mechanisms and training built into her start to turn back on and she slows it and with Ben, she breathes and stops and the panic fades.
She throws up again. Spots dance before her eyes, but they fade as she blinks.
Ben rubs her back and holds her hair away. The light in the hall came on a second before, pattering bare feet racing down, and they stop in the doorway behind her. “Breathe, Garnet,” Ben directs. Garnet knots her hands into fists in her tee shirt and tries to get control of herself, and eventually, she does, although the smell of blood and her own sickness is almost too much to overcome, coupled with whispers from well-meaning friends who she isn’t strong enough to face right now. She shifts and moves away from where she threw up and collapses on the cool, hard floor.
The wood is soft with polish under her face.
“What happened?” Someone asks Ben—Kat, right? Yeah. Kat.
“She had a nightmare, I think. She bit her tongue—tore her shoulder up. I didn’t know she had stitches in. But it was enough blood to freak her up and out.”
“I banged my head, too,” Garnet slurs against the floor. “Mi’ have a lil bit of a concussion.” She manages to say. That might explain all the throwing up.
Katrina swears. Ben flicks the light again, sits her up gently, and checks her eyes. “Not bad, if you did. I don’t think you did.”
“Taste of blood, then.” Garnet whispers, and lets her head sink against Ben’s shoulder. She shouldn’t. She hasn’t even been in the house for 48 hours and she’s already letting all of them in again. Someone’s going to get hurt. If she’s lucky, it will only be her.
“How long has that made you sick?” Ben asks.
Garnet tries to remember. She lurches away from him and dry heaves, unable to get up anything more. When it’s over, she gasps shakily, “Don’ think that’s a very good thing to think ‘bout right now.”
Someone pads up through the room and helps Ben get her sitting up. A cold washcloth is pressed against her face and neck, wonderfully cool and wet against her skin. Walter hands Ben the med kit and offers Garnet a straw. When she sips, there’s the taste of flat, cold ginger ale. She sips greedily, but Walter pulls it away.
“Don’t make yourself sick again, Garn. I know you’re thirsty and you want to drink more than anything, but we need to stitch and check you up, make sure you’re okay, and if you drink too much you might be sick again.”
Walter makes sure she understands before he sets the glass down—and even then, sets it a little out of reach. Then, with Ben, he gets her patched back together. Kat flinches as she sees the long parallel cut marks on her shoulder which came back open. Ben and Walter remain calm. Walter asks how she got them. Garnet shakes her head, too tired to try and remember.
Ben gently advises some of the others, clustered outside the door, to go to bed again.
Walter gives her another wonderful sip of ginger ale. She controls her urge to gulp it all and only takes a little this time.
At last they’re done, and Kat and someone—Beatrice? are cleaning up in Ben’s room and hers. Walter and Ben help her downstairs and Walter finally lets her finish a bit of the soda. They lay her down on the couch and Walter sits with her head in his lap, idly carding his fingers through her hair.
Ben leans his head on Walter’s legs, and holds Garnet’s hand and talks to her.
Slowly, she relaxes.
It’s only later that she finds out she fell asleep.