Chrysalis

Prelude: Sommeil


Darkness.

She opened her eyes to mere slits, allowing the tiniest amount of sight possible. She felt-

And suddenly every physical sensation rushed back to her, causing her to open her mouth in a silent scream. There was intense pain, pain everywhere. It kept her from even moving, even breathing. She felt the blood pouring from her wounds; wounds that seemed to be everywhere on her body. Blood flowed into her eyes, half blinding her as she stared at the moon, now gone scarlet.

She took a breath, her body shuddering as she took in a ragged gasp of air, the simple motion creating even more agony in her wrecked body,

"Ah," she murmured, and then finally, mercifully, passed out in exhaustion.


11:00 P.M

A stretch of grass, shining blackly in the thin moonlight. A thin strip of pavement, ghost-pale against the dark green of the grass, sparkling with broken glass from long-gone bottles. Wisps and strands of long, pale hair flowing over both. Black fabric and pale skin, covered with what seems like hundreds of slashes. Smears and blotches of dark crimson over both grass and concrete.

And the sound of a woman's scream, echoing through the night. Terrified. Horrified. Anguished.

"Someone help! Someone call the police! Oh my god, oh my god-" The words trail off suddenly as the owner of the voice crumples to the ground, hands covering her mouth as she trembles, staring at the scene before her in horror.

"Ashiya! What's happened?" A deeper voice, footsteps echoing hollowly on the concrete as a man runs towards the woman, concern fills his voice as he draws nearer. When he spots the shape lying crumpled in the grass, he lets out a sharp gasp. "Christ…what happened to her?"

The woman says nothing. And when the ambulance arrives, she still says nothing as the girl is loaded onto the stretcher and carefully pulled inside.

As the ambulance drives away, the blood stains fade away and vanish.

11:45 P.M

"She's alive." The medic says, his voice thick with shock and bewilderment, as he examines the frail body before him.

"What?"

"She's still breathing. Pulse is normal."

"But how? With wounds like-"

"The wounds seem to be healing at an advanced rate. Bleeding has stopped completely."

"Gracious." The female medic examines the body with no little amazement. Her hands examine previously wounded areas, eyes widening at what she finds. "Amazing. With the amount of blood she must have lost, not considering the extent of these injuries, she should be dead or very close to it."

"What should we do? We have no knowledge of her guardians, no idea where she came from. We probably will not know until she awakens."

"We'll have to keep her in the hospital for at least a week, given that her healing rate stays at this level. Tell me, Shido, does she look familiar to you?"

"It's hard to tell beneath-" a pause. "It's hard to tell, but she seems to resemble…" The man trails off as he stares at the resting figure before him.

"Yes, I think so too."

"Family resemblance?"

"How on Earth am I supposed to know? It's not like he can tell us."

The ambulance passes on into the night, ignored by the people driving their cars, un-noticed for the most part as it makes its way to the hospital, some thirty miles from the school of Ohtori.


drip

There was a sound, breaking into his rest, shattering the peaceful darkness of his fragmented thoughts. Water. The sound of a single drop of liquid coming to rest among a pool. The sound of a tear hitting the surface of a glass of water.

drip

There was something vaguely familiar about that single, insignificant sound. Something comforting, yet frightening about the tiny, unassuming noise that irked him, that unbalanced his peaceful state of mind. What was it?

drip

The sound reverberated through his ears, echoing through his mind, opening tiny streams of memory that trickled through and wisped away, leaving him confused and slightly shaken. A red glow illuminated the space before his eyelids, indicating the presence of bright light. Sunlight?

He stirred very slightly, feeling weak and drained, as if he had slept for years without ever waking up. He opened his eyes a crack, and blinked at the brilliant rays of the sun that hit him square in the face. Where was he?

A face blocked his vision, thankfully shading his eyes from the too-bright sunlight, and for a moment, he was caught in the dubious stare of the person obstructing his view. He blinked, unnerved at the intense scrutiny of the girl before him. She was pale to the point of ghostliness. Her eyes were crystal blue, and they shone luminously in the sunlight.

"Are you awake?" the girl asked in a semi-hushed tone, almost squinting at him, acting as if he were a sleeping parent whom she must not disturb. Her mouth had dropped open the instant he opened his eyes, and she was sneaking quick glances at the door.

'I think so," he replied dryly, aware of the hoarseness of his voice, "Or I am having more realistic dreams than usual." Usual? What was usual? Where was he? What was this?

Her mouth drew into a tight line at the cynical comment, and she stepped back, allowing him to observe the rest of her. She was dressed entirely in black, and had chosen clothing that covered everything but her hands and face. Her fair hair was cropped short, and it hung in her face, brushing her cheeks and obscuring her eyebrows.

"Ah, yes," the girl said, in a tone that matched his earlier remark, "The once-over." She crossed her arms and gave a slight smile, but her expression was overlaid with a different emotion that he couldn't quite place. Shock? Hope?

He ignored the comment and instead chose to look around the room. It wasn't tiny, but it was smaller than a double bedroom should be, and was painted completely a sterile white. The beds were brass painted white, with white covers, the drawers and shelves were white, even the flowers were white. The only splash of color came from the open window, showing splashes of green foliage and swathes of black pavement.

Black like the flowers. And white, white like-

"Where am I?" he asked quietly, rasping out the words almost painfully, longing for a glass of water. Black like flowers? But flowers were not black, never black. His mind swum in circles dizzily, leaving him feeling disoriented and oddly detached, as if he was simple a spectator to his own actions.

"You," the girl replied, a nervous tremor in her voice, "Are in one of the rooms at Briarson's Hospital. I've been told that you have been in a comatose state for two months." As she spoke, the girl walked towards the small door at the corner of the room, presumably the bathroom. As he found raising his head to be particularly difficult, and it only ended up with him becoming incredibly dizzy, he had to content himself with watching the crown of her head as she poured water from the sink. She even moved like a ghost would move, almost gliding over the floor.

"Two months?" he uttered hoarsely, voice rising in disbelief.

"That's right," her comments were very matter of fact, and she stayed just out of reach. She perched, birdlike, on the chair near his bed, her arms wrapped around her knees. "What's your name?" She sounded genuinely curious. "I've been sharing this room with you for two weeks, but they've never given me a name. They said they found you in the same spot they found me."

This girl seemed to have a tendency to ramble when she was nervous, he thought. That would make conversation much easier, as he was still having trouble forming coherent sentences. "My name is…" he paused, searched his mind for the answer. He came up empty.

"Don't know?" asked the girl, sounding resigned. "I almost didn't expect you to. I have the same problem, you see. "

His head swam dizzily, and he couldn't find himself able to reply. Memories swam through his mind, briefly touching and offering him the tiniest flash of insight, and then disappearing completely. No amount of concentration could bring up anything of use but faces, blurred and unrecognizable. Brown hair, then dark skin. Short moments of realization, and then blankness. Absolute blankness.

"Don't worry," the girl told him, those eyes staring at him knowingly. "You get used to it."

How could anyone adjust to this emptiness? To search for something in your mind and find it missing? He reached for the water glass once more and took a long drink of the liquid, concentrating on the cool feel of it against his lips and tongue. He stifled the urge to ask for something stronger as another wave of dizziness took him.

"I'm going to get the nurse now," the girl told him quietly. "Don't move."

drip

And when he looked up again, the girl had gone.


She had woken up in a room of pure white, and her body had been a mass of aches and pains. Moving her head to the side, she'd noticed the thick bandages on her arms, legs, and around her waist. But why? Why the bandages? When she removed them, there was nothing but healthy skin beneath… Her hair had been shorn close to her head, in a boy's cut, but the haircutter had not done a particularly good job. Bangs and a few tendrils along her ears had been left intact, and the hair was unevenly hacked off. But the pain in her body hadn't been as bad as the emptiness within her mind.

There were vague images of people she couldn't place. Places, like a school room, a certain scent, images and names that would pop up in her head at random, then leave as quickly as they had come. She was fourteen. She hated the color red. She had gotten in an Accident . That was the way everyone pronounced it, Accident. With a capital 'A', as if it was some sort of world-shaking event. As if there weren't so many other people in this hospital with the same or worse problems.

Alone except for the body of the boy she shared the room with. At first she'd thought he had been asleep, but the nurses told her that he was in a coma, and had been in a coma for months. He was older than her, perhaps eighteen or nineteen. His hair was incredibly light, almost white, and his skin was the palest she had ever seen. He looked almost like an ice sculpture, lying there perfectly still among the snow white sheets.

Something about him tugged at the retreating strands of her memory, telling her that she'd seen him before. She'd met this odd young man earlier, sometime before the Accident. She felt oddly wary whenever she looked at him, reflexively apprehensive of him, even though he could obviously do her no harm as he was. But her instincts told her nothing more, and she was so lonely in the tiny white room. She took to holding one-sided conversations with him, as though he could actually hear her. He was her confidant, and she told him of her classes, of her worries and fears, and of the vague memories beginning to stir in the corner of her mind.

That day she had read a book of fairy stories. One of the nurses had dropped it off for her, since she liked to read to pass the interminable hours in that tiny, white room. In her bed, she lived through the adventures of hundreds of noble princes and lowborn heroes. Dragons were slain before her eyes and castles were scaled as she lay among the white sheets, eyes following the words on the page with fascination. She was drawn to stories of princes in particular.

She'd finished reading the book of Grimm fairy tales that day, and was lying on her bed, staring at the blank ceiling as she wondered. Snow White, given a poisoned apple and made to sleep until a prince rescued her. She'd pictured the scene in her head, painting it on the ceiling with her mind's eye. A pale body, resting on a satin cushion, seemingly frozen inside a glass coffin. The prince clad, for some reason, all in white, a half cape fluttering behind him in a sudden breeze.

A kiss to break the spell.

She'd felt odd most of the day, almost detached. Like everything around her was some sort of odd dream, and if she pinched herself, she'd wake up in her bed, in some house in the suburbs. Though for some reason, she couldn't fit parents into the picture. There was an adult figure…female, with short hair. Motherly but not a mother. Nothing else but that.

So after reading the story, staring at the ceiling, she'd wondered about the kiss. It was ubiquitous in the fairy tales she'd read. The princess under an enchantment was given a kiss by the hero, and had their enchantment broken. Why a kiss? What was so special about the kiss?

And for some reason, she found herself looking at the still figure of the boy she shared her room with.

Kiss to break the spell, and the sleeping princess with skin as pale as…

But no, the princess in her mind was never pale, and the boy on the bed was not a princess…

But he did lay as if under a deep enchantment, never moving. His sheets were as stiff and unwrinkled as they were when she'd first awakened in her narrow hospital bed and looked at him, her silent room mate, an ice statue on a bed of snow.

She'd rose from her bed, walked across the room to his, and knelt next to him, studying his face. Up close, he looked odd, older maybe. Young-old, with faint worry line wrinkles on his brow and a fall of nearly white hair, but a boyish face and features. And the prince knelt by the glass coffin in which Snow White lay.

And that sounded right, for the whole hospital seemed to be an enormous glass coffin, colored in pure, sterile, unyielding white, with even the scenery outside a watery crystal grey. The plants grew brown here, and sprouted colorless fruit. "Do you need a kiss to break the spell?" she'd asked him quietly, her voice no louder than the barest of whispers.

Of course he didn't answer. The silence spun around her like a shroud of brittle white and grey clouds. It felt like no one on Earth was alive or awake or even real. It was one of those moments. And she leaned down slowly, inch by inch, her eyes watching his face, his frozen, unmoving face, until her lips just barely brushed his. His skin was warm.

She leaned back from the bed.

His eyes opened.


Author's Note:

Yes, I know. There's already a 'graduation' story out by this name. But I've been working on this idea for months, and I thought Chrysalis would be the perfect title for the story. I really couldn't find another, no matter how hard I tried. Please forgive me, Vic Woo.

No, I don't think this will be a Mikage/Utena coupling story, even though there is a kiss. Let's just see how it goes, shall we?