Content warning: Contains descriptions of severe injury. The second half of the chapter is safe for anyone who wants to avoid it.
Lor had thought that it was only when your own life was ending that it flashed before your eyes.
The crash rumbled through the ground, moving the earth beneath his feet as he raced towards the wreckage.
The smoke choked him as flames engulfed the twisted metal. His ears were still ringing from the impact.
Even his own voice sounded muffled. He could hear someone calling after him and a hand grasped his arm, trying to pull him away. He shook them off, staggering forward. She had to be ok, she had to be. He couldn’t lose her. He caught a glimpse of movement, and he breathed in deeply. He hadn’t even realised he’d stopped breathing. It had probably been around the same time his heart had stopped.
She staggered forward and fell into his arms. Her breathing sounded all wrong, even through the glass of the helmet. He shouldn’t have been able to hear anything through it, but a closer examination found a web of cracks along one side. She must have hit her head.
He lifted her up and carried her inside, laying her down on the sofa before grabbing his first aid kit and lifting off her helmet. A sob wracked his entire body. Her face.
Her breathing was shallow and wet, her face screwed up in pain.
“Ellie, baby, I need you to drink this, ok? It will help with the pain.”
She whimpered as he set the vial to her lips, but she managed to swallow a few small mouthfuls before coughing the rest up.
“I know it tastes awful, but it works, sweetheart. I wasn’t really focusing on the taste when I made it. Now, I’m going to try to remove some of this glass, ok? Be brave for me.”
She whimpered and closed her eyes.
“Papa?” Lyra was by his side, fresh towels and a bowl of warm water in her arms.
“Thanks, sweetie. I’ll call you if I need something else – you shouldn’t have to see this.”
“Will… will she be ok?”
He looked up at her, eyes wet and a smear of blood across his face. “She’ll be ok, Ly. She has to be.” His daughter nodded and crept back out of the room. He steadied his hands and got to work, a small pile of glass fragments slowly building up beside him. He wiped away the blood as he worked, damp towel stained pink.
When the wounds looked clean, he reached into his bag once more.
“Ellie? I’ve got something I think will help you heal quicker, but it hasn’t passed testing yet.”
She nodded before he could finish, the movement bringing another pulse of blood with it. He held her steady as he uncorked the tube, biting his lip. “This is going to hurt, love.”
The liquid hissed as it touched her skin, steam rising from it along with a strange, metallic smell. She whimpered and thrashed, but he could see it working already. He held her still, which was easier said than done when his hands were shaking like a leaf. He kept dripping it onto her face, sobbing with each new cry of pain. “I’m so sorry, Ellie. We’re almost done, ok?”
He cursed under his breath as he saw her hair started to merge with parts of her skin, and he quickly moved it away before it could stick permanently.
“Lyra! I need a razor!”
Ellie’s eyes flew open, dazed and wild. He hushed her, stroking her fringe back as Lyra’s footsteps pounded up behind him. He took the razor and nodded his thanks before she turned and fled.
“I need to shave your head, honey. Your hair’s in the way.”
Of all the things she had gone through, this was what made her cry. He worked quickly and carefully, murmuring to her all the while, and then he picked up the vial once more. He almost hoped she would faint, just to spare her the pain. Eventually, she did.
He cleaned her up afterwards, gently removing the last traces of blood, leaving nothing but scars. The smaller cuts had healed without leaving a mark, but those… not even he could heal them. He cleaned himself up, not wanting her to wake up and see him this way.
Lyra wiped her eyes as she worked on the dolls house. Leo had really done a number on it this time. She had heard him crying in his room earlier. She had poked her head in on her way downstairs, but he had fallen asleep. She’d draped a blanket over him and left.
Al… Al was with Shea. Shea didn’t want to be alone, and if she had read the colours right, neither did Altair. Shock could do that to people.
As for her… well, she just wanted to keep busy.
Ellie was awake now.
“Ly~ Hug me~”
She sighed and put down the hammer, walking over and sitting next to her big sister before snuggling up to her.
“Love you, Ly.”
She smiled and curled up closer. “Love you too, dopey.”
“Not dopey. Just floaty.”
Lyra rolled her eyes. Honestly, with the amount of painkillers her sister was on it was surprising she could string two words together, let alone describe anything. The doorbell rang and she found herself rolled off the sofa as Ellie jumped up and staggered into the side table.
“I’ll get it!”
“Ellie, no. I’ll get the door.”
She was brought up short as her sister pressed a finger to her lips. “Shhhhhhhh,” she slurred. “Stay here. My door.”
Lyra contented herself with following a few steps behind her. It wasn’t like Ellie would be able to see her, anyway – out of sight, out of mind.
She saw Otis outside, and watched as his face fell when he set eyes on her sister. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but his eyes were wet. Ellie was flailing around, talking slightly too loud for how close they were. It was when she accidentally hit him on the shoulder that Lyra stepped in.
“Hey, Otis. Ellie, sweetie, don’t you want to come inside? It’s warmer here, and you can bring your friend.”
Ellie beamed in her general direction and grabbed Otis’ arm, pulling him inside. Lyra fought back a giggle as she noticed him steering her away from the edges of the stairs. She really hoped that the vision issues wouldn’t be permanent, for her sister’s sake.
She turned as the back door opened and a redheaded lady walked in. Lyra opened her mouth to ask the woman what in the world she thought she was doing, but the expression on her face told her all she needed to know.
“Ellie? What’s this I hear about you crashing your ship?”
“Found a thing, but it was a trap,” Ellie explained.
“You found a thing, huh?”
“Mmhmm. A big thing! Looked important.”
“So you took it?”
“Yes!” Ellie smiled, looking immensely proud of herself. “Thought you would find it pretty.”
The woman’s eyes softened, and she hooked her arm through Ellie’s. “That’s really sweet, Ellie, but you shouldn’t take important things.” She turned to look at Lyra, and apologetic smile pulling at her lips. “Sorry for barging in. I’m Ashlynn, Ellie’s friend.”
Lyra looked between the two of them and raised an eyebrow. “I’m sure you are. Look out for this one,” she carried on, looking at Ashlynn, “she’s scarily affectionate when she’s off her head. Ellie,” she turned to look at her sister, who promptly tripped over her own feet in an attempt to find the source of the voice, “maybe you should sit down. I’m sure your friends would like that.”
“Yes, lets sit,” Ashlynn said, throwing Lyra a thankful look. “Come on Ellie, the sofa is over there.”
The four of them walked over to the chairs, keeping Ellie steady as they went. Lyra heaved a sigh of relief when her sister finally sat down. There was only so much trouble she could get into whilst off her feet.
“The thing was pink,” Ellie said suddenly, eyes unfocused. “Very shiny. Very pretty.” She turned to look at Ashlynn, who sat down next to her. “Like you!”
“I’m shiny, am I?”
Lyra was sat opposite them, and she jumped slightly when the cushion next to her sank down. Otis looked at her, cheeks still damp. She tilted her head, and he moved closer. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, “I don’t want her to see me like this.”
She reached into her pocket and handed him a tissue, which he took with a small smile.
“She’ll be ok, you know.”
He looked at her, puzzled.
“She’s strong. She’ll be back to normal in no time. She’ll probably decide she likes the scars, too. She always wanted to be a pirate, and I think they add a sort of rogue-ish charm, don’t you?”
He snorted. “Very pirate-y, yeah.”
“I mean, look at her over there.”
Lyra shook with silent laughter, relieved to see Otis doing the same. They caught each other’s eyes, grinning.
“Ellie, I’m going to get some water, do you want some?”
Ashlynn stood up and Ellie scooted over into her seat and snuggled into it. “Warm.”
“I think water would be a good plan,” Lyra said, giggling. “I’ll help you get it.” She stood up and they walked into the kitchen.
“Look, if Ellie’s making you uncomfortable, let me know. She obviously cares about you, and she’d never forgive herself if she scared you off with all the touchy-feely stuff.”
Ashlynn looked at her in surprise, and smiled shyly. “Thank you, but I’m fine. I kind of like it, actually.”
“Ok, but if you need me to rescue you, just give me a signal.”
“Hey, Otis,” Lyra passed him a glass of water, grinning. “Wanna play some cards?” She leant forward and gestured at the two women with her head, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively. He choked on his sip of water, and she laughed.
“Yeah, alright then.”
“Go fish?” he said, looking down at his cards in concentration.
Lyra snorted. “Do you have it or not?”
They heard giggling from the other side of the room, and turned to look over. Lyra smiled. Ellie had somehow wriggled her way closer and was happily nuzzling her friend’s cheek. Ashlynn looked pleased with the fact, so they turned back to their game.
“Do you have a Six?”
Ellie was having a wonderful time. She couldn’t really feel her face, and everything was a bit wonky, but she had never felt so relaxed. She looked over at the girl next to her and smiled. She’d never been brave enough to flirt with the pretty red-head before, but now she couldn’t understand why she’d been so worried. Everything was beautiful and soft, and nothing hurt.
“I really like you, you know,” she said, smiling into the green jacket. “I’ve wanted to tell you for aaaaaaages.”
“I like you too, Ellie.”
“No no no no noooooooo,” she said, leaning closer and looking her in the eyes. “I really like you. Is that ok?”
Ash smiled at her. “Tell me again when you’re sober, ok? Then we’ll talk.”
“I know, but you aren’t yourself. I don’t want you to say or do anything you’ll want to take back in the morning.”
Ellie pouted. This wasn’t what she’d hoped for.
“Won’t change my mind.”
“Ellie, please. For me?”
She sighed and cuddled closer. “Ok. Tomorrow.” She felt her friend hug her back, and everything was wonderful again. At least, until her elbow buzzed. She sat up, confused as Ashlynn fished around in her pocket for her phone. Aha, she thought, so that had been the buzzing thing.
“It’s so late! I’ve got to get home.”
“I’m sorry, Ellie. I’ll come and see you tomorrow, ok?”
“No goodbye kiss?”
She heard someone start coughing on the other side of the room, and looked over, eyes narrowed.
Lyra had been really focused on the game. She was winning, after all.
“I can still win,” Otis said, picking another card.
“You keep telling yourself that,” she grinned, the corners of her eyes crinkling with laughter. Then she’d heard those words.
“No goodbye kiss?”
She gasped and choked on her own breath, coughing and sputtering loudly. She couldn’t believe her ears.
“Ellie,” she heard Ashlynn say, “I’ve told you, I don’t want to take advantage of you.”
“Just one kiss?”
“Ellie,” Lyra called over, “it’s getting late. Ash needs to go home.”
She could see the small frown on her sister’s face, and sighed. She wasn’t sure what else she could say to help the other girl out. Then, slowly, Ashlynn leant over and kissed Ellie on the cheek.
Ellie beamed, and Lyra relaxed. Crisis averted.
Otis stood up and she whirled back around, eyes wide. He smiled at her and touched her shoulder.
“I should probably head off, too. Thanks for keeping me company. I’d have felt like a right third wheel on my own.”
The house was quiet again until the door opened once more.
“Ellie? I left as soon as I heard, but there was a massive traffic jam and I…” Malik trailed off, eyes filling with tears as he saw her. They stood in silence for a moment, then he rushed over and wrapped her in his arms. He was shaking.
He stepped back and traced her scars with his hand. “Oh, Ellie.”
“I’m ok, dad. I promise.”
She was alive. Hurt, but alive. He was more thankful for that than he could ever say.
A/N Well, this chapter was certainly something =p When her ship crashed I swear my heart skipped a beat – I was so relieved when I saw her walk out of the wreckage.
Scars – nenpysims (they’re tattoos, so they actually can be used on aliens!)
On a happier note, have this screenshot. I couldn’t fit it in, but I liked it too much to get rid of.