Chapter One: Death

Start from the beginning

“Time, guys.” The young woman stood at the door clasping a clipboard

“Alright beautiful. Geez,” said Derek, standing up and brushing away the wrinkles in his suit. “You’re gonna land that jump, Ash. Don’t worry.” He slapped the back of the helmet Ash was just securing to his head. Ash had to believe him.

*****

The world was fuzzy and didn’t sound right. All Ash could determine was that he was lying on his back and a rhythmic, comforting bleep sounded near his right ear. Everything ached and he groaned as he realized he was in a hospital.

As he couldn’t move without a concentrated effort, he instead closed his eyes and tried to remember how he got here. He remembered the locker room, stubbing out his cigarette on the plate, hearing the wind whipping past his helmet as his revved his bike. Kal had made the jump, he had to also. A muted sound that almost sounded like an echo juddered through his mind, startling him.

A nurse came into his vision and more beeps and boops started up around him. Ash tried to speak but his throat felt clogged. More faces appeared in his vision, inquisitive doctors squinting and frowning, popping in and out of sight.

“Mr. Everson? Can you hear me? You’re in the hospital. You’ve been in a coma for the past three weeks.”

Even blinking hurt. Ash stretched the fingers on his right hand and surmised the arm was stiff because it was in a cast. The soft cushion of bandages across his face and chest was doing its best to mask the aching. He grunted and blinked in the hope it would be acknowledgment enough for the doctors.

*****

A couple of weeks and dozens of hours of physical therapy later, Ash had progressed from bedridden to a wheelchair. He was sitting by his bed, grimacing at the window’s reflection he kept catching in his eye. The middle of his face was tightly bandaged, right across his nose and over one of his ears. He dreaded to think what kind of state his face was underneath it. It made him wince and he pulled across the shutters. He had even asked for the bathroom mirror in his hospital room to be covered so he didn’t have to look at it.

The cast had come off his arm earlier that day and he bent his elbow and flexed his fingers, he was still getting used to the weird lightness. He glanced at the clock, Derek and Bernie would be due soon. Bernie was always a friendly face but Derek never failed to drain both Ash’s energy and patience. He was a good agent, but his ability to be calm and collected left a lot to be desired.

As anticipated, the sound of well heeled boots clopped somewhere down the hall and Derek turned the corner with a smile that Ash couldn’t help but find infectious.

“How are you feeling, my boy? How long has it been? A week?”

“Uh, five days, I think.”

“I was talking to your doctor, he’s very pleased with your progress: you’re recovering at a brilliant rate.”

It was more than brilliant. The physiotherapist had said a very similar thing just yesterday: if anything, she sounded astounded he was already standing with support. He recalled her standing back as he stood on the rails, hands on her hips and both eyebrows raised. She had to stop him from taking a step in the kind of haste that might’ve ended with Ash on his face. He had been given a stern talking to about exerting himself.

Derek, however, was ecstatic Ash was speeding through his recuperation. He sat on the edge of the barely stuffed chair, one leg jiggling and talking mostly with his hands in his alacrity.

“With the way thing are going, you might be out of recovery in five weeks! We’ll miss the winter events but you could start your training after the holidays and get ready for the spring season. The press have been champing at the bit to know when you’ll come back, there’s no one really to compete with Kal with you in here.”

One of Ash’s eyes twitched. He didn’t want to admit how nervous he was about returning to the scene, especially since memories were emerging from the clearing fog of temporary amnesia. It wasn’t really specific moments, but recollections of the pain sometimes jolted through along with a vision of an arm rubbed raw of its skin.

“Is Bernie on his way?” asked Ash. Derek’s smile gleamed in the bright sun piercing through the shutters.

“I think he’s running late, but yeah, he’s coming.”

“Good.” Ash leaned back in the wheelchair, stretching his arm out once again. Out of nowhere a muted banshee-like moan flashed through his head and Ash gasped, shuddering at the cold spike through his system.

“You okay?” Ash blinked at the question and looked at Derek, whose head was cocked to one side.

“I’m fine,” he lied. That was the sixth time noises like that had been rattling around in his head. The last five times it was late at night, when Ash was teetering on the verge of sleep. He had initially pinned it as his mind playing tricks on him but he was becoming less sure every time it happened. “Will I be able to go home soon?”

“With that last cast coming off and you practically walking, I’m sure it won’t be long now.” Derek leaned forward. “I’ll make sure I’ll get you a better physiotherapist, too,” he whispered before quickly sitting back and winking. Ash rolled his eyes.

*****


A/N: please stop commenting on the paragraph containing the term "champing at the bit"! Please look it up, I promise you all it's a real term, so please stop trying to correct it! ^_^

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