She first notices the warmth in her body. It's unfamiliar to her.
At first, she thinks she must have too many sheets on her. It's the dead of summer, they can't afford air conditioning, and she never remembers to change her sheets between seasons. It's too much of a hassle. It's a lot easier to just shove her blankets to the side when it's summer than to pack them away completely and have to hunt them down again come winter.
But then she realizes the heat is internal. It's like someone shoved a heater into her belly and turned it to its highest setting. The heat washes over her in waves, traveling down to her toes and climbing all the way up to her forehead, making her sweat from the inside out. It's uncomfortable, and she wonders when did she get sick enough to catch a fever. She can't remember any coughing or sneezing right before she fell asleep. Come to think of it, she can't even remember when she fell asleep, or where. That's not normal. What the heck?
She tries to open her eyes, and her sudden inability to do so hits her like a speeding train. For a good fifteen seconds she panics, mentally hyperventilating because she can't move her toes, she can't open her eyes, she doesn't even feel herself breathing holy shit oh my god I'm DYING-
Oh, fuck me sideways. I'm having one of those shitty out-of-body experiences, aren't I? Damn it!
These things don't happen to her often, but she hates them with a passion. That loss of control, that moment when you realize you're helpless, that disconnection between yourself and your body is the worst feeling on the planet. She's never figured out how to stop them early. The only thing that works is waiting them out.
So that's what she does.
Time doesn't work the same way when she's like this. Sometimes it takes what feels like hours to finish a single thought, and other times it's been barely a minute and she's already worked through her multiplication tables until 12, recited four Sounds of Music songs, and counted up to 47 jumping sheep. The heat her body seems to be generating fluctuates regularly, though, so that ends up becoming her marker, so to speak. She counts it fading and being replenished by an outside source five times before she manages to peek an eyelid open.
White light blinds her and she does her best imitation of a pig snorting in protest.
Now that she managed to blink open an eye, however briefly, control over her body gradually returns to her. She wiggles her toes and twitches her fingers. Everything feels sore for some reason, and every time she moves the constant heat in her body rushes to that point. It's disorienting, and her perception of the world spins until she groans. She's dizzy, hot, and sore, three things that together mean she's sick, dying, or experiencing a really bad high. She can't remember smoking anything, so it's gotta be the first two. In a half-hearted attempt at self-preservation, she decides to believe it's the first.
Someone says something. She guesses it's probably the person taking care of her. She takes a deep breath in preparation of opening her eyes again, and abruptly realizes she isn't breathing air at all.
Her lungs protest as what feels like molasses crawls down her throat.
She coughs harshly, trying to expel the sticky liquid, but it's somehow replaced all the air around her. She breathes in and it clogs her mouth; she breathes out and it clogs her nose. She tries to raise a hand to bat it away, but her body doesn't respond well to her command. It's like her hand is trying to travel through an incoming Jell-O tsunami just to get to her face. Her eyes flutter open, and she wheezes through another not-really-a-breath. Bright golden sunlight filters through her eyelashes, and finally she is able to see.
The ceiling and walls are white.
Panic races through her, and her body alights with adrenaline. It feels like electricity coursing through her. She jerks in bed, arms and legs spasming in an attempt to block any possible attacks and run the heck away from them. Fear wrestles her breath from her chest, and it squeezes its way out of her throat, leaving her chest feeling raw and tight with tension. She swallows hard, seizing at the sheets. Thick air mixes with lingering heat, warmth that she associates with the fires of the damned, hot coals on her feet and liquid earth pouring down her tongue, a scarred man with a swirling leaf insignia carved into his forehead smirking down at her as he slowly drags a kunai across the virgin flesh of her neck-
Green light flashes at the corners of her fuzzy vision. Peppermint mist soothes her imaginary burns. For the first time since she's been awake, she takes a satisfying breath, filling her lungs to the brim with minty air before exhaling deeply. The addictive sensation washes through her body, alleviating all aches. She opens her eyes fully and stares up at two faces. One she barely recognizes, only able to feel a basic sort of familiarity but not remember its source. The other she doesn't instinctively recall, though the pale eyes remind her of something she used to know.
The two men converse quietly as she recovers from her panic attack. The man with the sharp stick in his mouth nods before leaving her field of vision. The one without an iris stays, that same green light from before flowing from his hands. She manages to raise her head, and the man adjusts her pillow without needing her to ask. She tosses him a grateful curl of her lips, gaze sliding over the easily identifiable hospital uniform. Unwillingly, her eyes drift back to his.
If she's totally honest with herself, they're kind of creepy. Both of them are pale lavender and completely blank, appearing almost glassy against the light. She doesn't know if he's blind, and she can't tell if he's staring directly at her or off to the right. His facial expression does not change, and for a little while, she just examines him. As she waits, the green light slowly dims until it is extinguished. That clogged feeling comes back again, like the air around her is too heavy, and she swallows thickly to try and clear her throat. The nurse turns to grab some water for her.
A part of her brain tells her that she's doing the impossible. Feeling air rushing into her lungs while said lungs are blocked by liquid is incredibly discomforting. On the one hand, she's grateful that she actually can still breathe. On the other, it's uncomfortable and headache-inducing to try and rationalize it, and it leaves her feeling off-balance, like she has one foot hanging off a cliff and the other poised on the very edge.
She takes the cup and stares at the liquid for a moment, finally finding words to describe this strange sensation. It kind of feels like breathing through water.