Inner Turmoil- Chapter 22

For some reason, she couldn't quite wake up.

She was swimming on the brim of consciousness, but the closer she got to the light the harder it was to move. Very slowly, various things crept into her awareness, sounds that were very strange but alive around her, images of the horrors she had experienced what seemed like hours before. She saw her house, trashed, the professor lying on the floor dead, her sister Bubbles crying weakly, Buttercup in the highest state of panicked anger, and her own reality crashing around her in a mixture of blood and darkness-

-And above it all, like the epitome of evil, she saw Him, standing above her, watching her, marking her-

-With a sudden rush of breath Blossom nearly leapt up in her warm bed, feeling very flushed and alarmed. She looked around quickly, delirious; blinking wetly as the sudden bright light stung her tired eyes. Soon her vision swam into focus and she was able to get a proper look at her surroundings, her head still swimming from panic and what must have been a very long nap.

She was propped up on a pillow in what looked like a cozy hospital room. The most prominent thing in the room was the steady beeping of the electro cardio graph she was hooked too. She looked at it for a while with interest, watching the bright lines map the even movements of her heart, which were just now starting to slow from her very abrupt awakening. It started to become unnerving, watching her heart beat like a programmed timer, so she shuddered and turned her glance away.

The room was very bright and seemed to glow in the mid day sun. Feeling very tired and sore, she watched with subdued interest as the hospital instruments around her clicked and sighed as they did their work. Her entire body felt stiff and weak, and her mouth felt like she'd been eating cotton balls for a week.

She looked around the room slowly, slightly confused, but jumped when she suddenly saw her sister Bubbles, goggling at her as if she'd just been through a huge shock. It was funny how she hadn't even noticed her sister earlier, sitting directly at her side.

"Blossom!" she said softly. Bubbles looked like she hadn't slept for a month. There were great big dark circles under her eyes, and instead of her hair in the usual pigtails, it fell over her shoulders in messy curls. Bubbles lurched forward suddenly and landed her head against Blossom's shoulder, a very awkward hug to say the least. They laid there for what seemed like an eternity, with Bubbles's face buried in Blossom's hospital robe, her breathing very deep and even. Everything seemed very calm, too calm even. Finally, Bubbles moved away.

"Hi, Bubbles," Blossom said softly, exploring the top of her right hand, shuddering as she felt the needle burrowed deep into her vein. She scratched at the thick strip of tape that held it there, dimly wondering what it was for, when Bubbles seemed to have read her mind.

"You'd lost so much blood that they needed a transfusion as soon as possible. well, the professor couldn't do it. because. you know. Buttercup ended up being the one. She was so persistent that it should have been her."

Bubbles trailed off, at a loss for words, but Blossom understood what she meant anyway. Of course the professor couldn't have given his blood for her. Even if it happened to be a match, which would have been unlikely, their genetics would have been so incompatible it would have only ended in disaster. As far as they knew, the professor was not their real father, but the Chemical X in their blood alone would be sufficient enough to keep him from giving his blood. It just wouldn't have worked.

It was also surprising that Buttercup had been willing to be the one to give up a portion of her blood. For one thing, she'd always been afraid of hospital needles, and secondly, how much blood had she needed to replace? Blossom remembered losing so much. in fact, it was a wonder that she'd even survived being so drained. Perhaps there was just a little more to Chemical X than they knew.

"She was really grumpy afterwards. Nothing she said made any sense," Bubbles laughed lightly, a sparkle returning to her tired eyes. "She was telling me off for wearing pigtails so much when she just sort of fell asleep in mid-sentence. It was really cute as a matter-of-fact."

Blossom smiled, wholly interested in what Bubbles had to say, yet at the same time she felt restless and uninterested. So many things were running through her head that she needed to sort out.

The last thing she'd remembered before dropping off was that she had been dying. She had been so sure that it was the end. but. she very dimly remembered being brought into the hospital, and having doctors standing around her, hot lights beating down on her as the doctors took care of her. Her remembrance came in brief flashes of incoherent thoughts, none of it connecting, none of it making sense. but there was some point in her restless sleep that she remembered feeling suddenly refreshed. It had almost felt like her strength had returned to her, even for a brief moment, as if she'd just been filled with some sort of charged energy. the Chemical X returning to her body.

And Buttercup. words really couldn't describe the emotion Blossom was feeling. She looked around, finally realizing that both the professor and Buttercup were absent from the room. She felt disappointed, wanting to see the faces of the rest of her family, but most importantly, she wanted to say something to her green-eyed sister. There were no words appropriate to express her gratitude for what Buttercup had done: bringing her to the hospital, possibly making the difference between her survival and death, and giving her own blood to save her in the end. It seemed as if she'd made the biggest sacrifice, and it just solidified the fact that deep down Buttercup did care, and was willing to do anything for her sisters.

"Where are they?" Blossom finally managed to croak, surprised to find it difficult to string an entire sentence together. Her voice felt closed and thin, and she touched her throat as a response, wincing at the tenderness of her skin.

Claws. squeezing my throat. can't breath.

Instantly she tried to shake it out of her mind. She could still feel his grasp.

"They. went out to get food I think," Bubbles said, a hint of worry on her face. Blossom was staring straight ahead, her brow furrowed in deep thought, but her face hinting at something that was unpleasant. Bubbles quickly leaned forward and put her hand on Blossom's cheek, pulling her face so that their eyes met.

Blossom didn't say anything, and her anguished expression vanished. She nodded slowly in response to Bubbles's last sentence, her face now expressionless.

"Are you okay?" Bubbles said, her voice comforting. Blossom looked into her sister's clear blue eyes, breathing deeply as she tried to think of something to say. Blossom decided to change the subject entirely.

"How are you?" she blurted, making a motion towards the white bandage that was still on Bubbles's head. Bubbles shook her head, and let out a sigh.

"It's basically healed. The stitches were taken out a few days ago," she said, fingering the cloth of the bandage on her forehead. For a second her eyes clouded over with something like fear, but it instantly disappeared. "They said that I'd had a concussion, but I hadn't even noticed because I'd been so scared. After Buttercup fell asleep and I knew that everything was going okay I started feeling really dizzy. and I think I might have passed out again. The professor was so worried."

Bubbles's eyes traveled down to where Blossom's hand was fingering uncomfortably at the stomach of her hospital gown. She's forgotten all about her wound up until then, but now that she suddenly remembered it, she could feel that it was there. It was basically closed up, that she cold tell, but the stitches were still there none the less. It wasn't pain that she was feeling, but just an uncomfortable sense of. wrongness, like something wasn't quite right down there. She just felt the hugest urge to touch it. to just see what was going on down there. and to just see what she'd have to live with the rest of her life; a constant reminder of what Him had done to her.

"The doctors. well. they were really confused as to how you were still alive. they kept asking really awkward questions, like they thought you were on something. the professor didn't really know what to say, it was terrible." Bubbles said quietly, grabbing Blossom's hand and moving it away from her stomach. Her gaze wandered over to the foot of the bed, where it remained there for a good five minutes. For some reason she was avoiding eye contact with her sister, as if there was something shameful in the way Blossom was looking at her.

"Oh," Blossom said quietly. She watched Bubbles intently as she attempted to make herself comfortable. She was still a little confused and very tired.

"Buttercup got you here in time. The professor said that we were the only things fast enough to get you to the hospital. before you."

"I know. and it's okay," Blossom smiled. Bubbles was obviously trying to search for words in order to avoid saying the "d" word, but Blossom saved her the trouble by touching her sister's head. "You know. you both did everything you could. there wasn't much else that you could have done. considering. well."

"I know." Bubbles whispered, "but we've been feeling really guilty. we thought we failed you. we should have been able to help you.If you'd have died. it would have been our fault! We let them take you away!" her voice was quickly rising.

"There isn't any point in blaming yourself. I did something really stupid." Blossom said, but she faltered when all the terrible memories suddenly flooded back into her brain in marvelous detail. Every moment, every word rocketed back into her awareness in full color and clarity. "I should have seen it before. I should have known Him was involved."

"How could you have known?!"

"He did it all. He was trying to destroy our sanity. he was around the whole time and we didn't know it. He was playing a game with us. my dream. your horse. barging in on Buttercup in the bathroom. He was just messing with us until the day we'd face him." Blossom said quietly, thinking back to everything that had happened.

"All that? He did all that?"

"We felt him around. but we never really put the pieces together. We knew what he was capable of. and there's no other villain from our past that attacks us in that manner. I should have seen it before. I knew something was familiar every time I looked into that man's eyes."

Bubbles was looking down at the bed sheets, absently playing with a corner of the thick white blanket with her fingers. She nodded in response to everything Blossom said, but she had no words to comment.

"I just got careless," Blossom said, turning to Bubbles. Blossom lifted her sister's face to meet her soft, tired gaze. "If you guys hadn't showed up when you did. I would be dead," she said very stonily, her eyes almost devoid of emotion. It was hard to think back to what had happened, and to imagine what could have been if the professor and her sisters hadn't interceded when they did.

They'd shown so much loyalty and devotion in the labs, and that made Blossom feel eternally grateful. She's been in a real bad situation, and they'd risked their own necks to help her, and that took so much courage; even the professor had risked a tussle with Him in order to save his daughter.

Blossom shifted uncomfortable, feeling the thick stitches on her belly move as she did so. She slid back against her pillow and closed her eyes, thinking about sleep, when she suddenly realized something very crucial. It was against her better judgment to bring it back up again, but she had to get it out.

"Bubbles, do you remember the dream I kept having?" Blossom asked, staring up at the ceiling.

"Uh huh," Bubbles said.

"It. was Him. He was. showing us our birthplace. taunting us. making us doubt everything that has happened to us all our lives. He wanted us to start questioning the validity of everything the professor was saying. and he wanted us to start questioning why we did so much for. Townsville," Blossom said, laying a hand carefully on her stomach where the wound was. "He was using our own questions about our origins as a way to lure us into a trap. He. he told me things. things he planned to do." she said shakily, noticing that Bubbles's face had suddenly gone very hard, the kind of face she made when she was angry.

"You knew didn't you? You were trying to tell me. before they took you away."

Bubbles nodded, and started blinking furiously, holding back tears. She took a deep breath and managed to keep them in, turning to face her sister.

"I knew he was going to kill you, Blossom. It didn't want to lose you. he said that Buttercup and I. were going to help him."

"So he told you?"

"Well, that's all he said. He didn't actually say what he planned to do, but I found it weird that he seemed to forget that there were three of us. I knew when I saw his face after you gave yourself up. I knew he was going to hurt you." she suddenly dropped into silence, unwilling to go on.

"I. I'm sorry," Blossom said softly. "I shouldn't have done it."

"Don't worry about it," Bubbles said, shaking her head. ".We don't have to talk about it now if you don't want to. I think you should just rest now."

"Yeah. I am a little tired. I guess-" Blossom was finishing, when she was interrupted by a rather high-pitched squeak from the doorway.

Blossom turned her head and saw Buttercup standing there, holding what looked like a bag of food. The professor stood right behind her, framing the doorway with an expression of relieved shock. Blossom smiled, her eyes glittering,


"Blossom!" Buttercup cried, dropping the bag onto the floor before practically leaping into her sister's arms. Before long she was sobbing again.

"Oh I was so scared! It's all my fault!! I shouldn't have run off, then none of this would have happened! If only I'd have listened to you- I'm so stupid!" she cried loudly between gasping breaths. The professor had picked up the bag she'd dropped and set it on the table at the end of the room. He walked over and sat next to Bubbles, putting a hand on Blossom's arm, the other on Buttercup's back.

"Buttercup. maybe your sister doesn't want to be smothered right now, okay?" he said, gazing thoughtfully at Blossom as he gently moved his hand to her forehead. "How are you honey?"

"I'm okay," Blossom said meekly, blushing at the professor's display of affection.

Buttercup gave a mighty sniff and pulled away, her face soaking wet. She let herself fall heavily against the professor's shoulder and continued to hiccough loudly. Blossom noticed this, and having been unconscious when they apparently made up, set herself to asking,

"So-er-everything's okay then?" she asked nervously.

Buttercup nodded softly. Without the proper words she'd clearly understood what Blossom had meant to say.

"I guess I changed my mind when I saw the professor risk his life to. help you." Buttercup drifted off, uneager to speak of past events, her gaze flitting nervously towards the professor, who was still watching Blossom calmly. "I suppose. he showed he really did care." Buttercup suddenly went very silent and almost looked as if she wanted to run out of the room for embarrassment. The professor ruffled her hair affectionately, without words telling her it was okay. It was a rare event indeed for Buttercup to appear embarrassed.

Blossom sat up quickly, feeling a sudden jerk of pain overcome her body, bringing her mind back onto someone she didn't want to think about.

"I wonder where Him is now," she said gravely, not really speaking to anyone, and not really expecting a response. Blossom didn't know what events had transpired between the time she'd been unconscious and now. For all she knew, Him could have done something, and she wanted to know if there had been any trouble while she'd been in a coma.

"Well, after your last attack he hasn't shown himself since," The professor said as he put a hand back on her forehead, as if checking for a fever. "I suppose you did scare him off."

"He'll be back though," Blossom said, her gaze shifting to outside the window. In the distance she heard a car alarm going off. "To finish the job."

"Blossom don't say that-" the professor began, but Blossom turned back to him, her face so emotional that the he stopped in mid-sentence.

Blossom didn't respond, but felt herself become overwhelmed with an overpowering feeling of sadness. The three of them looked at her with cautious horror, waiting for her to continue, but she really didn't have anything else to say, except, "He purposely tried to separate us, to get me alone. He's more powerful than we thought. even more powerful than we are. and he can easily do it."

The professor was watching her sadly, and there was a light hint of disapproval in his gaze, as if he thought everything Blossom said was just paranoia.

Not really in the mood to explain the entire story just yet, Blossom decided to leave it alone. Instead, she lifted her arms in an obvious request for a hug, closing her eyes as she felt the professor lean over and take her into his grasp. She felt so content and safe in his arms, but tears filled her tired eyes as she realized it was just false security. He couldn't really protect her against what she feared.

"What happened to Medicom?" Blossom asked finally, pulling away. The professor's expression turned very grave.

"Well, they closed down. It was very sudden, and the media had a field day. You should have heard the rumors," the professor said lightly, but there was a trace of relief in his voice. There was no more worrying about them anymore.

"But that doesn't make sense. Why would they just disappear like that?"

"I suppose Him had been running everything for a long time in preparation. for. you know. and perhaps when he disappeared they didn't quite know what to do. It must have been absolute chaos over there. Their stock completely fell down the drain and they were forced to file for bankruptcy." The professor sighed, "Perhaps it's for the best."

It seemed ridiculous, but there wasn't any point in worrying about it anymore.

"I've also made a decision. we're going back," the professor said after a long uncomfortable silence. The three of them looked at the professor with hopeful expectations, knowing full well what he meant. "Well- as soon as you're all better," he smiled at Blossom, who watched him with one of the brightest smiles she'd held in a long time. "It's really where we belong I think."

And they all agreed.

The airport terminal was hot and muggy with the strength of the August sun, making them all sweat buckets through their hurried struggle to carry their luggage away from the airplane terminal.

Bubbles and Buttercup tried desperately to follow the frenzied pace of the professor. Blossom lagged behind, her pace hampered by the mere fact that she still felt a bit weak. Finally, exasperated, she dropped her luggage in the middle of the corridor and stood there stubbornly.

"That's it!" she cried helplessly, clutching the sore region where her stitches had been just a week earlier. After she'd gotten out of the hospital it had been a mad rush of phone calls and packing, their preparations for moving back to their former residence. It was a pure stroke of luck that their old house had been put up for sale again, and they'd snatched it up very quickly, eager to be once again nestled in the quiet suburbs outside of the city proper.

Blossom had barely had time to rest after her ordeal, because despite the professor's frequent protests she'd insisted on packing all her stuff by herself.

Nothing had happened once she'd returned home. For a while, while she'd been in the hospital, during the frequent periods when she'd been alone in her room, she'd been afraid that Him would suddenly reappear to claim her. He never did, and those days had been filled with mounting tension, relief when her sisters had returned to her side, then growing unease once again every time they decided to step out of the room. The professor, bless him, had stayed by her side twenty-four hours a day, but despite the courage he'd shown back at the labs, Blossom doubted he'd really be able to protect her effectively against Him.

Once Blossom had been released from the hospital she'd felt loads better, because she no longer felt so isolated and worried. She was healing fast, and in a few days time would be back to normal. Nobody seemed too keen to speak of the run-in with Him, and every time the subject did start to come around, everyone suddenly became strangely mute. Horrid memories were hard enough to forget, but to have to keep reliving them through words. Blossom felt it was much nicer not to talk about it at all. Her family also had the habit of stealing awkward glances in her direction in the event that the subject did begin, and Blossom found it quite uncomfortable.

It had been their final evening in the still-trashed place they'd called home for the past five years, when Blossom had finally built up the courage to tell her family. She'd ended up telling them everything Him had told her, and everything that he's planned to do. Her family had been appalled to say the least, and while Buttercup and Bubbles had vehemently protested that Him would have never been able to sway them, Blossom knew better. The truth still stood that they didn't really know what he was fully capable of, but they did know that he'd always been a very good persuader. While both of them had been in such states of broken down mentalities, who knew how easy it would have been for Him to manipulate them. They didn't really know, and that evening had been so full of anger and tears that Blossom had to wonder if letting the story out had felt any better at all.

"Honestly! What's the huge rush!?" Blossom shouted after them. They stopped and turned. Buttercup looked at her scornfully.

"Awww, come on!" she said impatiently. Blossom was glad to note that once she'd left the hospital, Buttercup returned to her less than cheerful self. Her constant crying had started to get just a little irritating.

The professor came up and attempted to scoop up one of Blossom's bags, but then proceeded to drop everything he was holding all over the hallway, making quite a scene. People around were eyeing them excitedly, most likely because they recognized them, but thankfully kept from doing anything rash.

"It's okay!" He said very quickly, trying to scoop everything back up again, but the bags were putting up quite a fight. Bubbles interceded quickly and picked up the last bits that he hadn't managed to grab, smiling broadly as she did so. Blossom's arms were now free, and it was easier for her to move more quickly now that she wasn't weighed down.

"Umm, thanks," she said lightly, trying very hard to smile, but finding it rather difficult because her side had just started throbbing painfully. She tried to look casual as she tried to squeeze the pain away, but the professor, who was quick in observation when it came to his daughters, noticed almost immediately.

"Something wrong?"

"No. Let's go," Blossom said quickly, shooing them forward, because she was very eager to get out again.

After a quick trip to the baggage claim, they made their way through the ticket area and to the outside. Blossom could swear she saw some security guards slightly disgruntled, grumbling about the news, when-

"Oh, hell," she heard the professor say, and Blossom looked up to see why.

There must have been hundreds of them. Reporters, cameramen, security, and what looked like eager bystanders were swarming an area just outside the sliding doors of the airport. Apparently they were waiting for something, Blossom's suspicions confirmed when all at once the mass of news reporters seemed to surge forward as the four of them walked into the glaring sunshine.

There was a flurry of awkward questions and subtle clicks of cameras as the people attempted to question them all at once. They tried very patiently to answer everything, but Blossom started to get extremely shy when one of the reporters brought up her very obvious injury. She didn't have any clue how they could possibly know about it. but apparently someone had found something out.

Then they all started asking questions very fast, cameras rolling, photos clicking away madly.

"Can you tell us what happened?"

"Erm- it was just an accident-"

"How long were you in the hospital? Was the wound extensive?!"

"Um- well- er- no. I think I was out for two weeks-"

"Any idea as to who the perpetrator was?"

"No! I uh-"

"What do you plan to do about the recent string of diabolical crimes in Townsville?"

"Huh?" Buttercup said rather pathetically, cutting in to give Blossom some breathing time.

"How do you plan to deal with Mojo Jojo?"

"What do you mean?" Buttercup stammered loudly, folding her arms impatiently. All of them had dropped their bags in the confusion.

"What is your response to the news of his breakout from the institution?"

"WHAT?!??!" Bubbles shrieked very loudly, causing a few of the reporters to move backwards sharply. They'd been pressing in just a bit too close as if they thought they'd get a better view of them if their noses were touching.

"Well I think everyone knows the answer to that," Blossom said indignantly, puffing her chest out with pride looking directly into one of the cameras. "I suppose he has no idea we're back. But let me tell you, he better not poke his head up anytime soon."

And with that there was another flurry of questions. None of them cared, because for some reason they felt like that one piece of their lives that had been missing, had just been put snuggly back into place. It was back to business as usual.

And somewhere, on the other side of town, a hunched over, furred figure was watching the television. He growled, slamming his primate fist down on the armrest of his chair, and turned his attention away from the TV. He looked to his left where something large and gleaming lay propped on an operating table, his baby, his new creation, his newest diabolical scheme. He grinned and stood, moving over to where his newest machine laid dormant and continued to prepare for the very near future.