Quiet. She had to be quiet.
Even with her head filled with cotton, ears ringing, vision blurry– she knew she had to be quiet. Even if she couldn’t remember why.
Warmth. Wet gentle warmth ran down her right side, sticking her clothes and hair uncomfortably to her clammy skin before dropping down, splashing softly.
Her side hurt.
She couldn’t feel her arm.
A voice. Not her own. But who then? Was she hearing things? Had she been alone when…. when….
“Just breath. You’re gonna be fine. Just breath.”
She took a deep wheezing breath. Something rattled in her chest and she coughed. Loudly.
“I’m sorry.” The voice said again.
A shadow moved across her limited vision, brighter than the darkness surrounding her. Something brushed her hair back– a hand?— light and cool against her skin, and she gasped, a brief moment of peace before she dropped back into her violent hacking.
“But you have to be quiet.”
The hand (it felt like a hand) pressed against her mouth. Muffling the sound, but not the jerking as her body fought for air. She struggled, shoulder connecting with something.
She screamed, but the sound was trapped behind her lips, the hand pressed even harder against her mouth. Fluid filled her throat. It tasted like pennies.
Just as suddenly, the hand left, her head dropped forward, and she retched.
For a long time she sat, back arching into the warm hand rubbing soothing circles into her back as she heaved up indecipherable slim and blood. Her pulse roared in her ears, heart nearly beating out of her chest, her throat burned and she was terrified and it all hurt so much but—
But… she was still alive.
And that was important. It was so very important.
She slumped against her unseen companion, gasping for every short shallow breath. The hands were back, brushing her hair gently again, murmuring words she couldn’t make out in her ears.
Still, she drew comfort from the rise and fall of his– his? His.– voice. He was important too. And… it was good that she wasn’t alone.
Oh, her hearing was back. She hummed, head falling and connecting with a shoulder. At least she thinks its a shoulder. She didn’t dare open her mouth to ask.
“Stay awake, okay?”
She hummed back at the voice. She hadn’t noticed how sleepy she was until he’d mentioned it. Her eyes fell shut, her vison was darkening anyway.
“I’m sorry.” The voice cracked. Something dripped down her face. She licked her lip– tasting salt. “I’m…I’m so sorry…”
Oh god she knew that voice.
“…Sis?” The voice choked.
She tried to force her eyes open but her eyelids were too heavy. Her heart thumped slowly… quieting in her chest. It was so cold, and the dark was so inviting….
No no no. She struggled against the force tugging her down, stealing her breath. She couldn’t give up. Couldn’t fail now. Not now. Not when her brother was–
Then it was her brother who had trouble being quiet.