Author's Note: Another series! It's AU but since it's mostly dreamscape, things that wouldn't normally happen in reality do occur. Fun? Not quite, it's a psychological thriller, pursuing a serial killer…um yeah. There's a lot of dream sequences…and I didn't want to put in –dream sequence- or some sort of really obvious marker…I hope you can get where reality is and where dreams are…should be okay I think. Please read and review.
Dedication: This for Rhea-chan. You're the bestest!
Disclaimer: I'd sooner be stabbed by a frozen carrot than own CCS. =P
Chapter 1: Haunted
The double doors swung open, stirring the still air. A gust of summer breezed into the hospital, lacing the antiseptic odor with a light flowery scent, a sweetness welcome by the patients and staff. A nurse fluffed a vase of flowers, greeting the doctor as he passed. "What a wonderful morning."
Li Syaoran looked at her with a certain skepticism. "That remains to be seen." He strode casually over to the employee lounge, throwing his things into a locker, taking up the coffee pot. The black liquid slurped into his cup, a congealed mass settling like syrup. "Ugh." He couldn't shake the feeling that there was something wrong. He had watched the world brighten into a beautiful summer day, clouds drifting softly by, people smiling and inhaling the flowery scent. But there was something disturbing him, all this beauty, this nature was a gift in exchange for something. Like a sacrifice had been made for the flowers to open, something taken so that the sky could light up with the sun. The blaring of sirens reawakened his senses, and with a groan, he put down his drink, rushing into the hallway.
Ambulance doors parted, two paramedics taking a gurney out with urgency, wheeling a prone figure through the hospital doors. They spoke in broken sentences, interspersed with silences as they changed reddening bandages and checked for a pulse. "Found her on the beach. Stabbed. BP low…"
The victim in question was a young woman, pale and slender, a thick ingrained dark crimson-brown stain running down the left side of her face, hair matted together by the sticky substance. "Let's get her inside; where's the wound?"
Wheels squeaked as they rolled across the floor, the paramedics outlining her injuries. "In the left side; he might've hit an artery..."
Syaoran nodded in understanding, setting off to work, sliding the latex gloves across skin, peering into the wound. A bright light shone down harshly, glimmering in the still wet blood, a clean flap of skin parting to drip the red fluid. He breathed in a concentration, gingerly probing the wound for signs of irreparable damage. "O negative, now."
A nurse quickly obeyed, watching the life giving liquid trace its way from bag into the pale victim. "BP's still low."
Syaoran felt something, warmness bathing his fingertips as he probed the injury, a sea of gelatinous liquid, smelling so intensely familiar and overwhelming of blood. "The artery's punctured." Tracing the path of spongy tissue he cringed in realization. "The kidney's damaged; we have to get her to surgery." He squeezed tight on the leaking artery running with the rolling gurney, disappearing behind the closing doors of the elevator.
Signing the chart and taking one last set of vitals from the unconscious girl, Syaoran stepped into the fluorescent halls, eyelids heavy, a yawn overtaking his body. He groaned, dropping the chart onto the counter with a clatter, trudging to the on-call room for some precious sleep. Twenty hours without rest and tirelessly repairing a stab wound today…he lowered himself onto the mattress, the darkness cradling his strained limbs and senses. The sallow smell of sickness faded from his mind as the gentle caress of sleep worked its way into his consciousness.
Syaoran's eyes stirred, the unfamiliarity of his bed brushing his senses. He shifted a shoulder experimentally bouncing as something undulated from underneath him, rippling with his movements. Snapping awake, he turned to his side, meeting the cool skin of a white sheet, pulled taught over the rolling waterbed. Trying to raise his body, something solid brushed against his back, feather soft and cold. He flipped to the other side, his vision meeting the closed eyes of a woman from somewhere recent in his memories. Her features remained peaceful and mellow, delicate and motionless. Flushing from the nearness to her face, he jumped up from the bed, throwing off the thick quilt, bed gurgling from his removed weight. The girl stayed asleep. He stared incredulously at her, rumpled cotton nightdress hugging her curves, bare arms on the mattress, palms flat against the sheet. His eyes darted around the room, looking for something familiar. No windows, a circular room, white walls, a bare bulb hanging from a stucco ceiling. Wasn't he just in the on-call room in the hospital? His inner voice seemed to bellow in the room, echoing off the walls and throwing itself against him.
His thoughts' reverberations shook the ground, ceiling cracking, plaster peeling off, bed in waves. The girl's eyes snapped open, unseeing, blank green, burning with a disturbingly serene inflection. She blinked a few times, silky voice slipping past her barely parted lips in a musical whisper. "I think I could love you."
Syaoran stumbled backward, taken aback by the sudden words, his thoughts finding some kind of voice and emanating from the walls, surrounding his body. He watched closely at the woman, her eyes staring into nothingness, focused on something behind him. Opening his mouth to speak, the girl jerked once, a low moan of pain escaping her closed mouth. Eyes blinked once, remaining open and blind to her surroundings. He approached slowly, something catching his senses, the recognizable salty iron smell that always accompanied… Quickly he flung the quilt from her body, exposing her legs, a red circle spreading from her side: blood. Instinctively, Syaoran turned her to face the light, dark shadows outlining her features. He applied pressure to the wound, flashes of surgery cascading into his consciousness. This was that girl. But this time was different, feeling no flowing blood as he probed the wound, the red liquid already cold and coagulated. The girl's wrists, chilled flesh, were already an indication of the inevitable; no pulse, no breath. Syaoran looked down at his hands, covered in her blood, moving his vision to the prostrate girl, the green of her eyes bleeding into the white, diffusing to the entirety of her eyes. Death was a companion for a doctor, yet it seemed to be unnatural to be kneeling by this dead woman. "Who were you?"
The same fluid voice rose from the girl's chest, lips closed, blanched blue. "Sakura."
Syaoran jolted upright, disturbing the beads of sweat that had pooled on his forehead. His breath came in deep inhalations as he shook his head to clear itself of the haunting images. He squinted into the darkness, the overpowering smell of medicine and sickness around him. The ceiling and walls remained smooth and white, sparse furniture dotting the room's landscape, a stiff hospital bed underneath him. He lifted himself from the bed, being blinded by the fluorescent light as he staggered out of the on-call room. Blinking to dispel the nightmarish remnants, he reached the nurses station, searching for a chart. "Nurse, where's the chart for the stabbing victim from this morning?"
The nurse looks up replying dryly, "Which stabbing?"
"The woman, when I started my shift."
"Hmm…" She flipped through the various pads, papers crunching in her haste. "Here it is." Holding up the metal clipboard triumphantly, she scanned the information, memory catching up with her. "That's right; the police wanted to see you for a moment."
Syaoran yawned. "Why?"
"Something about her I guess; they've been waiting in her room for a few minutes now."
"And why didn't you call me?"
"I must've forgotten."
Syaoran looked inquisitively at an open magazine, frowning at the sight of a quiz half circled. "I see. I'll go see them now." He pulled at his coat, straightening the askew badge, trying to tear the dream and reality asunder. Stepping into the virtually empty waiting room, he looked for the police. Just as he was about to sigh and head for the employee's lounge, he spotted two uniformed figures smoking outside the hospital doors. He knocked on the glass, both pairs of eye meeting his. "Did you want to talk to me?"
One of the policemen looked confused for a minute. "What? I can't hear you."
Syaoran groaned to no one in particular, yanking open the door and heading out to meet them. The moon hung high in the clear sky, the cool breeze whipping about the streets. "I heard you wanted to talk to me."
"You're the doctor who took care of the Kinomoto girl?" The speaking officer was a woman, flicking the end of her cigarette against the door.
"Sakura?" Syaoran stood puzzled for a moment, the name escaping his lips before he could think.
The other officer, a man with a goofy contemplative look, gestured. "Yeah her. You're on first name basis…does that mean she's a friend?"
"Uh…no. I've never met her." Syaoran scowled at the other man's stupid grin. "I'm not quite awake right now."
"I understand. I'm Officer Sasaki; this is my partner, Yamakazi. We wanted to ask you a few questions about Kinomoto's injuries."
"Okay. Sure?" Syaoran was more than confused now; why would the police want to know about a patient's injuries?
"She was brought in this morning at 8?"
"Yeah, the beginning of my shift."
"And did the paramedics tell you when she was stabbed?"
"I don't think so; the wound looked fresh. I thought this morning."
"Can you give us a good estimate?"
"I don't think so, it looked maybe an hour before she arrived? You should probably ask the paramedics."
"Was this stab wound in her left side?"
"Ye-es. Hit her kidney, barely missing her renal artery."
Sasaki nodded emphatically. "Only one wound?"
"As far as I could see." Syaoran was lost, each question serving to confusing him further. "What's all this about? What's so important about where this girl was stabbed?"
"Serial killer." Sasaki lit another cigarette, breathing the smoke into the night sky. "It looks like she's the sixth victim. Same beach, same weapon."
"Oh." Syaoran shivered, a picture of some crazed maniac appearing in his mind's eye.
"Thanks for the information; by the way, will she live?"
"It's hard to say; the damage has been repaired but if she'll wake up I don't know."
Yamakazi broke his silence handing Syaoran a card. "Call is she does; we'd like to talk to her. She's the only one so far that's survived an attack."
"If anything changes, I'll be sure to call."
The two officers bid Syaoran goodnight, making their way to the patrol car, the orange end of Sasaki's cigarette visible in the shadows. Syaoran stood for a moment in the doorway. Shaking his head dismissively, he went back inside, ready to go home. This was a police case; he has no involvement in the case, but he couldn't shake the feeling that he would.
Author's Notes: The end of the first chapter. Nothing else to say; thanks for reading?