Anakin woke up, feeling a
sharp pain in the back of his neck. Apart from this stinging pain,
everything felt distant, dulled by medication.
Opening his eye all he could see was something white far above him, the ceiling he assumed, and a couple of coloured lines running across it , perhaps wires.
He knew where he was - in a hospital somewhere - and what had happened. The fight, the accident, he remembered it but he did not seem to be able to gather enough energy to have any strong feelings about what had happened. It confused him that he did not feel the same overwhelming despair he remembered feeling when he thought of Shura leaving, the boiling anger he bore against Kenobi or the horror and disgust that had washed over him when he realised that the odd things sticking out of his chest where his own ribs.
They must have given him a hell of a lot of drugs, pain-killers and sedatives. It even affected his ability to sense what was going on around him. There were people in the room but they seemed to be far, far away.
“I am almost through with the last one, I’m afraid”, a female voice said. The doctor, Anakin realised.
“You read The Warlord of Warhoon already?” another, male voice asked.
Anakin tried to concentrate on the voice. It sounded like Diam but what on earth would the Senator be doing in this hospital.
“No,” the woman answered. “I started but it just seemed so … farfetched, fantastic, and it’s bloody racist if you ask me.”
He wanted to sit up, look at who was there. Was it only the two people or more?
“Stupid, really,” the woman said. She sounded as if she was closer now. “He’s awake,” she stated then.
Anakin strained to move. If he couldn’t sit up, perhaps he could at least lift his head, but even that seemed to be an effort for which he did not have enough strength to muster. All he managed to do was make the constant, stinging ache in his neck turn into an agonising burst of pain.
He bit back a yelp of pain, and realised that the tube had gone from his mouth. There was still something stuck in his nose but his mouth was free now.
“Anakin,” the male voice was much closer, too. It was Diam Palpatine, no doubt about it.
A wave of warm feelings rose in Anakin. Diam was here to see him, his emotions of concern and relief were strong enough to reach Anakin even through the drug induced haze surrounding him. It was so good to have somebody he knew here, a friend. Diam was like an anchor in this confusing, blurry white world of this hospital.
Anakin could hear himself make a strange strangled noise.
“Careful,” the doctor said from the other side of the bed then from where Diam’s voice had come.
Fingers closed around his left hand, a hand that seemed to be detached from the rest of Anakin’s body, endlessly far away, but he could feel Diam’s hand closing around it.
“Anakin,” Diam said, his voice choking with tears, “I’m so glad you’re awake at last.”
Anakin tried to press Diam’s hand in return but his fingers did not move.
He tried to say something but his voice obeyed his commands as little as did his hand.
“You have to step closer, Senator,” the doctor advised. Her face and upper body was now hovering inside Anakin’s vision.
Anakin could hear Diam move on his left side, hitting something as he stepped closer.
“Careful!” the doctor warned. She turned back to Anakin and wiped something off his face. Tears, he realised.
Why couldn’t he move? He strained to turn his head towards Diam but again all that happened was that flashes of pain shot up from his neck into his brain so that bright sparks jumped before his eyes. Had he broken his neck? But he could feel his hand, he realised and desperately held on to that thought, he could feel Diam holding his hand.
“Don’t try to move,” the doctor said, forcing him to look back at her. “Your neck is fixated to heal.” She smiled. “There’s your friend.”
She stepped back and Diam’s face appeared on the other side of his field of vision. The Senator had a smile on his face that warmed Anakin’s heart. Diam’s feeling of happiness to see Anakin awake was so strong he had difficulties keeping it apart from his own emotions. There were other emotions mingled in with the joy but they were to confusing for Anakin to make out.
“I am so glad you are finally awake,” Diam repeated. There were unshed tears in his eyes but he smiled. “After the accident we feared the worst but you have shown them all once more, haven’t you?”
Anakin stared at Diam’s face and tried to speak again, ask what he meant with finally. Where was he? Who was this doctor that he had the feeling he knew so well?
“You are being taken care off by the best, Anakin,” Diam went on. “They are going to make you alright again. You just have to be patient.” Diam laughed at that. “I know you are not a patient man, but healing takes time. Just think of it as an extra vacation. You did want to go on vacation, didn’t you?”
Anakin tried to make his voice work, desperate to ask what was wrong with him, exactly. He did remember the crash and …
There was another set of emotions seeping into him, two different waves of emotions. Amusement spread from the doctor who remembered that even on the verge of death Anakin had thought of holidays. The surge of irritation coming from Diam was by far the stronger emotion, irritation with the person Anakin had planned to go on vacation with, who had now abandoned him. The feeling was so strong it pushed all the other emotions aside.
“Shura,” Anakin heard himself say.
The doctor made a strange hissing sound, drawing his eye back to her face.
Diam’s irritation was now echoed by the doctor’s who glared at the senator as if she wanted to kill him.
Who was she?
Anakin tried to make his mouth move again, shape the question, force air through his vocal cords, but it was like attempting to move some object by mere thoughts.
But he had been able to do that, Anakin recalled. He had to be able to ask the question by just thinking hard enough.
Who are you, he asked in his mind, forcing all his thoughts to concentrate on this one question.
For a moment he feared he had as little control over his powers as he had over his limbs then with a sensation as if bursting through a thin membrane he went straight into her mind.
Who are you? The question echoed around him like the tolling of a bell in a temple. Her comparison not his, he realised.
Pain stabbed through his mind and hers. Only dimly he could hear the doctor’s scream.
Qar. The answer came. Qar. Dr Hadasht, Dr Hadasht, Qar, that idiot doctor, my girl, Qar.
Voices calling her name rose in her mind. Images of people talking to her.
Who are you?
The question was repeated over and over again, and Anakin realised that he did not know how to stop it. He slipped deeper and deeper into her mind, into her memories.
He saw her staring at a piece of paper, her name, Dr Qar Hadasht, written in bright red letters between black print. Her diploma. Then a man - a teacher - was yelling at her ‘Who do you think you are?’ Another image swept away the shouting teacher, her mother, kneeling in front of her so their eyes were at one level. ‘My darling girl,’ the mother said. ‘I’m so proud of you.’ He felt her hug him, her arms strong and secure around him, and he felt the blank emotion underlying the feeling of contentment, I wish Daddy was here.
He was going to lose himself in her mind, Anakin realised, and he would probably kill her in the process.
‘Who are you?’ somebody asked. He turned around to see a young man with blond hair and pale green eyes look at him with a broad smile. Behind the young man, people were dancing under flashing lights. The music was loud enough to throb through Anakin’s body, and he noticed a glass of wine in his hand, a delicate looking, small hand, as if a woman’s. ‘I’m Pol’, the young man said.
Somebody squeezed his hand - the doctor’s hand - hard enough to grind the bones together.
There were more people in the room, questions assaulting his ears, emotions whirling through him too fast to make out anything in the confusion.
“I don’t care,” he said through gritted teeth - no it was the doctor who spoke, but he could feel the dull ache of teeth pressing too hard on each other, “just get him out of me.”
He could see through her eyes, he realised, he could see her hands holding the edge of a bed in a death’s grip. Her body was shaking as she tried to pull herself on her feet again.
“Get out!” the doctor demanded, her teeth still clenched together.
I am going to break a tooth if I continue that , she thought.
A strange tingling sensation enveloped his feet.
His feet? He had not felt his feet since the day of the crash.
He did see his feet then, through the doctor’s eyes, her memory of staring at his feet while the ambulance took them to the hospital. They were still some remnants of his boots on his feet, cut, torn, and partly burned away. He could feel the doctor being sorry for his feet, broken and squeezed out of shape. With a sigh, she picked up a small pair of scissors and started cutting off what was left of his boots.
Suddenly everything moved away from him, every sensation, every feeling vanished. It was as if he was thrown into a deep pool of water.
He was back in his body.
His vision was again restricted to a patch of white ceiling and a few coloured wires. He could hear voices talking, the doctor on his right saying “I’m fine,” and Diam’s voice on his other demanding to be let through. Otherwise he could not feel anything, not his hand that Diam had been holding, or even the stinging pain in his neck, or any other part of his body. It was almost as if he was only a head lying on a hospital bed.
“For Gods’ sake, stop fussing,” the doctor’s voice demanded, “I’m perfectly fine.”
Dr Hadasht, Anakin remembered. Qar Hadasht, whose father had died of lead poisoning working in the metal factories of Serine when she was nine. Her mother was dead now for eight years. She had had no contact with her older brother Cal since then. She had been reading books to Anakin, one after the other, while she watched over him lying in a coma for over a month. Her best friend at school had been Saph, whom she had loved with a passion and envied equally, for her long, dark hair, her dazzling blue eyes, her rich parents. Saph had all the boys fall over themselves in their attempt to woo her.
“He’s alright,” Dr Hadasht said.
Anakin tried to concentrate on her voice. The memories he had stumbled through were seething in his mind, whirling around and making it hard to separate them from his own.
He knew that Saph was dead, too. He also knew that he was in the Military Hospital of Alma Serena.
“He’s under sedation, Senator,” Dr Hadasht stated. “He can’t hear you.”
Anakin could see her white lab coat from the corner of his eye.
He wanted to contradict her, tell her that he could hear just fine, but he could not speak. He could not move and everything started to slip away from him.
Diam was there to visit, Anakin remembered distantly, and he wanted to tell him how glad he was about this.
Voices babbled around him, incomprehensible and growing more distant.
The last thing he heard before he really lost consciousness was a harsh, sneering voice saying “Jedi.”
The story continues
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