In my mind, chaos reigned. I was bombarded by bright flashes of color that burned my retinas beneath my closed eyes, and strange snatches of sound interrupted the odd rushing noise that filled my ears.
I shouldn't have done it. I knew that now. It had been a bad idea. But I didn't regret it.
I could feel my fingers twitching, but the rest of my body was still. My nervous hands were the only sign to the people around me that I was in any sort of discomfort. Because that's all that it was. Discomfort. I had expected pain, but it hadn't come. At least, not yet.
“What happened?” an unfamiliar voice asked. Someone responded, but the words were lost as I was overtaken by a wave of static. It crackled unpleasantly in my ears, and I would have wrinkled my nose if I still had the power to do so. My hands curled into claws, then contracted into frustrated fists. I wanted to tell them to stop, to lay still, but I could no more easily stop my hands from moving than I could make the rest of my body start to do so.
“Aura,” A pair of warm hands forced one of mine to relax. I knew that voice. Ethan.
“Who are you?”
“I'm an aura.”
“Yeah, I can see emotions--”
“Nice to meet you, Aura. I'm Ethan.” He didn't understand.
“My name isn't actually--” I tried to explain, but he interrupted me again.
“Aura, why are you here?”
“It's okay, Aura,” Ethan's voice came drifting through to me again. “I'm here.” I think he must have turned to speak to another person, because his voice was muffled when he spoke again, “Can she hear me?” The answer was someone mumbling that they didn't know, and then everything was gone as I was again overcome by the smothering rushing sound. I could feel the energy being forced through my limbs, the same energy that I'd been warned would kill me within minutes should I come into contact with it.
“Don't touch that,” Ethan warned, and I snapped my hand away from the pointed machine.
“What is it?” I asked, staring mesmerized at the energy that spider-webbed across its surface.
“That's our generator. Keeps this entire building running,” he grabbed my elbow and pulled me away from it. “It'll kill you if you touch it.”
“Then why is it left out in the open?” I asked, wrinkling my nose.
“It needs the open space around it to function.”
“It just does, Aura,” he said firmly, but I could see his emotions, and they weren't angry. Just exasperated. “Let's leave at that, okay? The SPS can't be confined. Open space is vital to its operation.”
“Her vitals are steady,” a new voice announced, “but she's in some sort of coma.”
“When will she wake up? Is there any way to know?” Ethan asked, and the desperation in his voice broke my heart.
“No,” the new voice (who I assumed to be a medic) answered, and regret permeated the word. “Now that we've gotten her disconnected from the Spindle Power System, there's a higher chance of her surviving, but...”
“But not of her waking up.” I could imagine the way Ethan's face looked right now-- brown eyes wide, messy hair tousled from running his hands through it in worry or frustration, but brow furrowed with determination. I wanted to smooth the worry from his face, to ease the fear in his voice. But I couldn't. I was drifting somewhere within myself, held captive by the residual energy that still spiraled through my brain. The rushing noise had abated, as had the flashing lights, leaving me alone with the darkened backs of my eyelids, the voices of my companions, and the beat of my own heart.
“You're heartless!” Ethan shouted, and he meant it-- His emotions were full of turmoil, but he believed what he said. “You might be able to read my emotions, but you can't understand them! You've gotten so good at manipulating the feelings of others that you can't even recognize your own anymore.”
“That's not true.” I didn't shout. My voice was quiet. My voice was hollow. And in that moment, I knew that he was right. The realization brought me no unhappiness, which only validated it further. I'd lost myself, and in doing so, I'd lostt Ethan. He turned away from me, but I grabbed his arm. “Ethan, wait—”
“For what?” He asked, and the eyes that met mine were full of pain. I opened my mouth, but no words came out. He pulled his arm out of my grasp and walked away.
“What do you want me to do?” I eventually whispered, long after he'd gone.
“What can we do?” Ethan asked, one of his hands now moving to rest on my shoulders.
“I don't—” the medic began, but he interrupted her. Of course.
“What. Can. We. Do?” The medic stumbled over various words, until finally uttering something coherent.
“A-- A shock might do it. Some sort of mental or emotional trigger might be able to jerk her into consciousness.”
“A trigger. Okay.”
I feel the barrel of a gun against my back.
“Don't move, and I won't pull the trigger.”
“Okay,” I whimpered, though curiosity demanded to know who this was and how they got in here.
“Aura?” I heard Ethan's voice coming from somewhere behind my captor and I. I wanted to turn around, but I couldn't. The cold presence of the gun against my back made sure of that.
Until it wasn't there anymore. I turned around, and Ethan had his hands raised while a man I didn't know pointed his gun at him instead. My eyes met Ethan's, and he flicked his gaze towards the door. He wanted me to run, but I shook my head. It didn't matter that he had been furious with me only hours earlier. I wasn't leaving him. I looked around the room, trying to think of some sort of a plan.
“Let's not get carried away here,” Ethan started to say, but he fell silent when the man released the safety.
“Sorry,” the man said, “but I can't have witnesses. I was stretching it with one,” he jerked his head towards me. “Two is out of the question.”
The gun went off. I ran.
“We're running out of time,” the medic warned. “If there's a chance to wake her, we have to do it now. You know her. What would give her a shock?”
Electric shocks ran up and down my spine as I slammed the man into the SPS. I heard him cry out and drop his gun, and I wondered if he was dead. I wondered if I was. My consciousness was certainly fading. Probably not dead though, I realized as I took a breath. But close to it.
Ethan took a deep breath, and leaned over me. “Now or never, right?” he asked, and though I couldn't see anything, I could tell that the medic nodded grimly.
Ethan came closer. His lips met mine. My eyes snapped open.
My eyes drifted shut. Sound asleep.