I Know, I Know, I Know
rating: +14+x

I’m falling through a blizzard. There’s no up or down, nothing to see, nothing to grab onto. Little pings of consciousness and roiling waves of thought scream at every part of my brain to pay attention. Every time I reach out for something to hold onto, it slips back into the chaos. Over and over again.

My body is a ghostly suggestion, somewhere far away. I can feel the fire running up my arms. I’m still breathing, probably, physically. It doesn’t help. I try to scream but my lips won’t move. I can’t feel anything but the flood of consciousness trying to subsume me.

Something sharp tugs at my mind. Something focused on me, piercing through everything else. I throw myself into it, press my face against it. I gasp for breath as I hammer an anchor point into my mind. It smells like spices and the tiniest bit of vanilla.

I can feel myself breathing now. I feel fingers wrapped around my waist, giving me a gentle squeeze. Same presence, calm, steady. It radiates from her touch.

She’s trying to talk to me. Her voice is a low hum against my cheek, but I can’t understand the words.

Another wave of panic starts to blossom through me. “It’s okay.” I try to tell the presence. “It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.”

I can’t breathe. The fire in my arms burns brighter and I’m just trying to hold onto the calm even though I’m not okay and maybe I’ll never be okay because I’m choking again and all I can feel is-

The presence pulls me closer, wrapping both arms around me. The panic catches just before it tears through me. She doesn’t let it, holding me in her presence.

“You’re safe, 7910, I promise. You’re safe.” Doctor Yu whispers.

I trust her. The burning through my arms dies down just a little. I start to feel things again. My blanket is still between my fingers and wrapped tightly around me. I rub the cable knit between my thumbs. Another anchor point, another deep breath. The world doesn’t feel nearly as sharp, now, and my brain is starting to filter out all of the sensations I was drowning in.

Doctor Porter is behind me, on the other side of the couch. I can feel her wanting to ask me if I’m okay. In contrast to Doctor Yu’s serenity, she’s a ball of barely controlled anxiety. But she knows that the best way to help is not to press. Gives me the mental space to breathe.

I try to open my eyes, but the world starts to spin. Doctor Yu keeps me steady, her face almost pressed to mine.

“Dizzy.” An assessment, not a question. Her eyes meet mine and I blush, feeling how close together we are. “Do you know where you are?”

I nod. I’m still on the couch in Site-93’s common room. My blanket is wrapped around me, and I stim with my thumbs and fingers rubbing small circles along the fabric. My breathing is steady now, but I’m still shaky. The world beyond the three of us spins out of reach, muted and blurry.

I shiver as she runs a finger across my wrists. Her touch, now, is deliberate, professional. She notes the coloration of blood vessels; The dark patterns haven’t expanded too much, and Doctor Porter taps notes on a tablet. The cool of her touch lingers where she runs her fingers down my neck.

A knot of tension unwinds as she pulls back. Reports that there aren’t any unexpected or concerning symptoms. Only the usual mess, tonight. Doctor Porter has a few questions, too, and I respond with nods or shakes of my head. Also expected. Words are complicated, difficult. Too much to be useful in the middle of so much swirling thought, trying to explain how the tightness in my chest felt because I thought I was going to be lost in something I could barely understand as so so many thoughts and feelings and emotions and-

“7910.” Doctor Yu takes my hand in hers and a cold shock shorts out the feedback loop in my brain. “You’re safe. Take a deep breath.”

I squeeze her hands, holding onto that cold. The world is starting to spin again and I intertwine my arm with hers, lean into her shoulder, and breathe.

Something else is running along her mind. A spark, then something warm spreading across her before everything gets muddled together. She takes a deep breath and looks away from me, a bit of pink in her cheeks, just like it felt when she was running her finger down my- “Oh.”

Doctor Yu is quiet for a moment. She holds her voice steady but anxiety pools in her chest. “I’m-I’m sorry if I…” Doctor Yu tries to sound calculated, like she’s taking a moment to decide which words fit best, but for the first time since we’ve met, she’s not sure which words to use at all. “I shouldn’t have-We can take you back to your cell in just a moment if-”

Doctor Porter sighs. She’s a mix of worried and annoyed that I can’t pin down either. We sit in silence for a moment, tension pulling at my chest, making me dizzier.

“Well, things are winding down, anyway. We have a little Christmas party of our own for tomorrow.” The tension starts to release and I can feel her smile. “As long as 7910 is feeling okay, now, we can take her back as planned.” There’s a resignation, some silent agreement we’ve all just made together.

Doctor Yu opens her mouth but can’t find any words, so settles for just nodding. There’s a part of her that’s still tense. But she takes a deep breath and ignores it. Squeezes my hand and pulls me just a bit closer.

“Is this okay?” She still tries to be professional, covering the nervous butterflies, and shifts so that her arm is around me again.

I wrap mine around her, too. “More than okay.” I rest my head on her shoulder, feel her chest rise and fall next to mine. She doesn’t reach for more or over extend. Doesn’t try to say anything else. It’s enough to just feel her intertwined with me.

The rest of the world fades away. Her voice hums against my cheek while she and Doctor Porter talk in low whispers. Maybe in another life this could be different, something more. But I push that thought away. For now, I just cling to the moment, to her, and let it be enough.

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