As I opened my eyes, my hazy vision met one thing: tubes. Tubes everywhere, coming out of my arms in multiple areas and I could just barely feel one on my neck.
I was lying in a bed. The ceiling was blue.
That was all the information that I had about the place I found myself.
I tried to sit up, but quickly found that I could not; a shooting pain ran through my ribs like a knife, and a cry escaped from my lips out into the empty room. My scream echoed down the darkened hallway.
Moving to cradle my injury, I looked down at my arm and noticed how many tubes there were. Both arms, almost covered.
I swung my vision towards a dark haired man in a blue uniform who stood not far from me. My eyes widened.
I shook my head and tried to push myself out of the bed but I was too weak. The tubes were keeping me there; holding me down. So I tried to hide. As he stepped forward, I retreated further under the blankets, pushing my face into the pillow as much as I could. "Hia—hia!" I begged, clutching my side. Tears trickled down my face. The pain near my ribs was like nothing I'd ever experienced. Sharp and shooting and quick.
"Listen to me, calm down."
I felt his hand on my shoulder and I shrank from it. English. Father taught me that—I knew that one. "Please, please, please, no," I cried. My hair stuck to my forehead uncomfortably. I grabbed at the tubes in my arm and pulled.
"You're going to disconnect the tubes keeping you alive!" he said impatiently, grabbing my shoulder and trying to pin me upright. He held my arms down while I cried and cool metal locked around my wrists. Keeping me here. I felt like I couldn't breathe.
He walked towards one of the medical machines, pushing buttons in a random combination. My sobs choked me as I shook my head wildly. "Please don't hurt me, please, sir, please!"
He froze, back towards me.
I was still crying loudly. Still petrified. "Please don't do this, please don't hurt me."
When he turned, he looked almost remorseful. "I'm trying to heal you, not hurt you." He shook his head, knotting his fingers together. "What do you think I'm doing?"
I sniffed but didn't offer a response.
Upon further inspection, I noticed he stood much further back now. "How do you feel?"
I shivered. All the tubes in my arms did too, clicking against each other. My arms were still locked to the bed. I didn't answer him.
"Your ribs hurt, don't they? Right side?" His tone was different. Gentler. I couldn't tell if he was trying to catch me off guard, or if he was just acting nice now.
I glanced at my side and looked back up. I nodded.
"That's because three of your ribs are broken, among other things. You're tougher than you look to survive that crash."
I was trying not to make any eye contact with him, but it was harder than it seemed. My tears were drying on my face and it was uncomfortable to not be able to reach up and wipe them away.
Walking off, he pushed a button on a machine further away and spoke into it. "Jim."
Another voice came out of the box, and I sat up a bit taller, trying to see. The voice answered, groggy, "Bones, it's three in the morning, it better be important."
After that, he tried to speak in hushed tones. I could still hear him, but I pretended not to, laying my head back down on the pillow. I noted, however, how tired he seemed. How dark the circles under his eyes were.
I wondered how long he'd been awake.
I wondered how long I'd been asleep.
The doctor spoke low into the machine. "Listen, I know what time it is. But she's up. And I don't know what to do with her, Jim—she's scared out of her mind, and she won't answer any questions."
"You ever thought that maybe she just doesn't speak English?"
"She does. She was screaming and saying not to hurt her."
"Shock from the crash?"
"Not a classic case at least, and the drugs I gave her were non-hallucinatory. I think you need to see her."
I heard him sigh from the other end. "I'll be right up."
"Just trust me, bring him."
And then he let go of the button, and the voice on the other end was gone.
When he looked back at me, I feigned sleep and he fell for it. Once I opened my eyes again, though, I found that he was intent on something else on the other end of the room. Measurements, or something. I let myself relax an inch; he was far away and unfocused. But I felt my palms get clammy as I remembered he had called two other men for help.
I didn't know what their intentions were.
I hoped they weren't all going to attack me. One was bad enough.
My breathing quickened again but I tried to calm myself inwardly. Anything that these people could put me through would not be the worst it had ever been. I had experienced worse and I would, most likely, experience worse in the future. So I needed to calm myself.
I wished I could pull my hands up to the curve of my neck, but they were still clamped down to the bed. I wanted to huddle into myself and hide away from it all.
I cursed the man in my head, but then thought better of it; at least he had kept me alive. I assumed that all these tubes were doing just that: medicating me, nursing me back to health—at least that's what I guessed from what he had said earlier.
I heard the doors on the far end of the room slide open and feigned sleep again. Maybe they wouldn't bother me now; not when I was asleep.
I made out of the sound of their footsteps, coming further inside. Closer to me. A sleepy voice yawned, "Bones, she's asleep, we shouldn't—"
"She's not asleep." That voice was the doctor. "Look at her breathing patterns, Jim, they're going up. She's nervous that we're over here."
Calm yourself, calm yourself, calm yourself!
"Hmm." I felt a single set of footsteps drawing closer to where I was. "Are you awake?"
I tried to even out my breathing. It was only getting quicker.
His hand grazed my shoulder and instantly my eyes snapped open, moving away as best I could under my binds. Breathing was harder.
"Captain, I would recommend that you step away. She is obviously frightened of your close proximity to her." I turned to look at the third man, who, as he advised the 'captain', was standing a safe distance away. Vulcan. He wouldn't hurt me. He would keep me safe; Vulcans were honorable people. I had learned this long ago.
I let out a shaky breath and spoke quickly in his language. "Please don't let them hurt me, I'm very scared."
The doctor and captain narrowed their eyes as the Vulcan responded smoothly. "We will not harm you. We are friends, do not fear."
"Then why am I being restrained?"
The Vulcan whose name I assumed to be 'Spock' looked at the doctor sharply. "Unlock her binds. She is not a prisoner."
"Spock, she was going to rip out her IVs—"
"She will not now. Please unlock them."
I looked up at the doctor for a shaky half-second and said quietly, switching smoothly to English, "I will not undo the effort you have put towards healing me. I apologize."
The doctor looked back once more before halfheartedly pushing a button that made the chains disappeared into the mattress.
The man who I assumed was "Jim" pulled a chair up to the foot of my bed. A safe distance away, but still not a comfortable one. "How do you feel?"
I could feel my heartbeat in my head. Nerves. "In pain, Sir."
"3 ribs broken, from the crash," the doctor finished for me.
"Where was your ship going before the crash?"
I rubbed my hands together, willing them not to shake. I didn't want to be afraid of these men, but I was. I didn't know anything about my circumstances; all I remembered was being on the ship to Regant IV and a bright light; there wasn't anything else.
I pulled a piece of hair behind my ear and looked at the Vulcan. "I do not wish to be rude or disrespectful to the captain, I would prefer speaking to you alone, sir."
The Captain looked at the Vulcan inquisitively. Spock responded, "Her exact words, roughly translated, are, 'all due respect, but I do not feel comfortable speaking with them here'."
"Do you know her, Spock?" The doctor asked, incredulous.
"I do not," he intertwined his fingers in front of him. "but she is seemingly much more at ease speaking to me in Vulcan than with you both in English."
The doctor cracked a smile and I felt better. I had thought maybe he was going to hit me for my disrespect; but he had only thought it funny.
"You Vulcans always win, don't you?"
The Captain laughed and I looked over at him. He looked like Cameron. Tall, mischievous eyes, dirty blonde hair. Except that Cameron could be trusted and this man could not be. Not yet.
The Captain caught my glance and held it before I looked down at the sheets. He stood up and said, "I'm very sorry if we scared you. That was never our intent. You're safe on the Enterprise, don't worry."
The Vulcan stood too. "Unfortunately, your words will most likely mean nothing to her until they are proved."
The captain kept a slight smirk on his face and brought his hands together. "Well then, Spock. You figure this out, because I'm going back to bed." He turned back to me and nodded. "Goodnight, miss."
As he walked out, the doctor walked over to Spock. "If I'm not going to sit in, then I'm going to catch an hour of sleep—wake me up when you're done and I'll keep an eye on her vitals." He walked down the hallway and called behind him, "Don't forget, Spock. I've gotta keep an eye on that blood pressure."
"Noted, Doctor McCoy."
And then it was just myself and the Vulcan. I felt myself relax exponentially, and I peeked at the scanner on the screen. The one that identified my breathing was back to normal. I rested my head back down on the pillow, closed my eyes, took a deep breath in, trying to regain balance in my system. I focused up on the ceiling as my equilibrium returned to normal. Meditation was something I learned long ago to cope with my surroundings; it helped, sometimes, after the danger and the panic were mostly gone. He waited patiently.
"Thank you for waiting." I said, looking up at him. "I am sorry that I cannot sit up at the moment, it is very painful to move."
"There is no need for an apology. You are injured, you should not be expected to socialize at all." He paused for a moment, collecting his own thoughts. "You are Terran, I assume?"
I nodded slowly. "You must be very learned to know so quickly."
"I was thinking the same of you. So far, you have proven that you are fluent in two seperate languages. Do you know more?"
"I'm fluent in…four total. But I know pieces of others."
"Would you be comfortable speaking in English? I have become accustomed to thinking in that language rather than this one."
He raised an eyebrow at my ability to change back and forth from language to language. "I will not deny that I am impressed."
"That is very kind of you, sir." I paused, looking at him squarely. "Where am I?"
He grabbed the chair that the Captain had been seated in and pulled it to my bedside. "You have been rescued by the USS Enterprise, a Starfleet vessel. The ship you were aboard crashed on the planet we were scouting, Alpha Taurus. You," he spoke slowly, wary, "were the only person who survived the crash."
My eyes widened. "You're sure?"
As a smile found its way to my lips, I closed my eyes and thanked whatever being was controlling our universe that I had gotten away from Echo.
"Are you well?"
"Yes," I beamed, trying to sit up from excitement but finding quickly that my injury would prevent it. I looked down with knotted brows and grazed my hand along my sides. A small price to pay for escape. "Did your ship shoot it down?"
He was still confused. "No, it had already crashed—I apologize, but I do not understand why you are so elated for the misfortune of your ship."
I paused. "I was a slave aboard that ship. I was being transported to Regent IV for another sale before it must have crashed."
An eyebrow rose as he looked down at the floor. "My deepest apologies for your—"
"What's done is done." I stopped. Carefully choosing my words. "I have your crew to thank for rescuing me. As you probably noticed, however, I have a certain…irrational mistrust for human men."
"With good reason," he said quietly. "Why, however, do you so easily trust me, but not the Captain or Doctor McCoy?"
"Because you are a Vulcan. And Vulcans have honor, while men do not."
He pondered my words, not saying anything. "What is your name?"
"A rich, ancient name. It suits you well."
Silence overtook us. I was glad that he didn't try to pry into my past; to ask of things that would only bring back sharp, cutting memories that I had long tried to suppress.
His voice broke the glass silence. "Eden: I feel I must assure you that no harm will come to you while you are onboard the Enterprise. I will explain the situation to the Captain and the Doctor, and we will try to accommodate you as best we can. But I must urge you: McCoy is a licensed doctor who, in order to heal you, may at times, have to be in close proximity to you to do his work. You must learn to trust him. I assure you, his hands will not wander."
"It is not as simple as you would believe." I took a steady breath.
"I do not believe it to be simple at all. And while I do not understand or process your emotion of fear, I do realize your reasoning of mistrust from a logical standpoint."
"Don't let them be offended, Sir. I don't mean to push them away. It's a terrible reaction, but one that I have nonetheless."
He leaned forward slightly. "You apologize for your human reactions due to a troubled past. Do not apologize for such things. They are merely your mind's defense systems reaching out. Defense systems that must be re-trained in a safe and trustworthy environment."
"You make it sound easy."
"It may be simpler than you let yourself believe."
I pulled my hands up to the curve of my neck. I felt myself drifting off again; whether from natural sleep or medication, I wasn't sure. "I won't bother you any longer, please go back to sleep in your quarters. Thank you for your time."
He stood and nodded respectfully. "Sleep well, and rest in the comfort of safety."
I let myself fall fully back into the pillow and called after him, "Should I stay awake for the Doctor's arrival?"
He raised an eyebrow, barely. "You were listening, as I should've assumed. I will take down your vitals and give them to the Doctor. He will have no need to come back for the night." He peered at the scanner, opening a file of some kind on it, before he looked back at me. "Please, rest. If he insists on personally checking, I will not leave."
I nodded and burrowed down in my pillow, my breathing steady and even, feeling secure for the first time in eight years.