They’d taken my wings.
A sob caught in my throat, but though I desperately wanted to cry out, no sound left my lips. I struggled to take the next breathe and for one hysterical moment I couldn’t even perform that simple action. My body held traces of numbness from whatever drugs still swam through my blood.
My vision clouded at the edges, darkness threatening to take over, to take away the pain.
I almost gave in.
And then I forced myself to look behind me again. To look at what was left of my wings. I blinked, dry-eyed, but just looking at the damage hurt. Silence echoed around the room and in my head. Pain-filled silence.
Finally, a sound somewhere between a sob and a low moan, spilled from my stricken throat, bouncing off the walls of the sterile room. I shuddered, unable to turn away from the horror of those two broken, splintered bones, jagged edges raw and bloodied.
A clock in the room ticked off every second, and with each metallic knock the drug faded and pain blossomed within my body. My forearms and inner elbows throbbed. I lifted my right hand and inspected skin now mottled with purpling bruises. It seemed they’d drawn blood from every vein they could find.
Goose bumps pebbled my skin, hundreds of fine hairs standing ramrod straight and fierce. Odd to be cold now. Compared to Asgard’s biting chill, Midgard’s weather was nothing, and the canned air of the hospital room even less. I rubbed my arms, hoping to erase the rash of goose bumps, hoping to generate some warmth in my body.
And then I couldn’t bear to look at them any longer. Twisting back around I slowly became aware again that I wasn’t alone. Through the haze of shock I registered that I hadn’t been alone at all. Now I faced the Valkyrie and the einherjar who waited so quietly for me.
Sigrun and Aimee stood before me, both silent, their faces twisted with mirrored sorrow and worry. Sigrun placed a warm hand on mine, and though my skin craved the warmth all I ached to do was shove her off. I didn’t want to be comforted. I didn’t want their sympathy.
What could they say? How could they explain what Dr. Lee had done to me? I didn’t think I could handle their pity or their sorrow; I knew I’d scream if either one of them said the word sorry.
But one question needed asking, if only to voice my need.
“Why?” But even as I asked the question I knew. They wanted to know more about me, more about how I functioned, about my physiology. They’d kept me drugged and unconscious for who knew how long. We had no idea yet what type of experiments they’d done on me. They wanted my blood, that’s for sure. And it seemed they’d wanted my wings too.
Hot tears singed my eyes. I clenched my fists, wanting to slam them into something. It took an immense amount of strength to curb the urge to slam them into the bed, or into my thighs.
“I am going to kill him.” I almost growled the words, the depth of both my emotional and physical pain almost impossible to bear.
“You know you are not doing any such thing.” Sigrun gripped my shoulder, her voice low and comforting, yet firm. “Stephen Lee experimented on you. For whatever particular reason, we cannot yet understand.
I glared at her, “You want to understand? I don’t particularly care to understand his twisted reasoning. I want my bloody wings back.”
“You know we cannot put them back, Bryn.” Sigrun spoke, trying to keep her voice reasonable. I could tell. My awareness seemed split in two. A part of me could hear and feel the sorrow and pain my Valkyrie friend experienced. But I didn’t want to be handled with kid gloves. I needed to act. Now.
“Are they here? Did you find them?” I slid off the bed, hardly caring that the jarring action of my feet hitting the floor produced agonizing, splintering pain in what was left of my wings.
“Bryn, we did find them, but do you really think it’s necessary? You don’t want to see them. Really, you don’t.” Aimee touched my other shoulder, her eyes filled with worry and sadness. I hated that my friends could barely look me in the eye.
“I want to see them.” I stood tall and straight, and stared Sigrun in the eye. I got away with my act, all the while holding back waves of pure agony. The drugs they’d pumped into me had begun to wear off while we’d listened to Loki’s confession. But the painkillers seemed to work stronger on my wings as only now did I begin to feel the agony. It spiked, as if someone had taken a handsaw to my back. And from the condition of the remaining bones, it seemed as if that was pretty much what they’d done. I watched the hesitation play across Sigrun’s face, the exchange of glances between the two girls. “If you don’t take me I’ll find my own way there.”
“Very well then, but be prepared. It is not a pretty sight.” Sigrun replied, steeling her features, hiding her emotions. She slipped an arm around my waist and helped me walk out of the room and down the passage. The sterile white walls and floors seemed to close in on me. Invisible fingers gripped my lungs, squeezing, expelling every last breath, suffocating me slowly. When Sigrun tightened her grip on my waist I realized I’d begun to slip, my body demanding release from the pain, my knees no longer aware of the rest of my body.
Catching myself, I concentrated on walking, putting more of my energy into each step forward. Aimee walked beside me, mournfully silent. I understood her empathy but how could she really understand. To me it felt like a limb had been removed. I no longer felt whole. But how much sense did that make. I hadn’t even had wings until a few months ago anyway.
I stared at the floor tiles, counting each one as I walked over them. Four-five-six. The more I counted the closer I’d get to the lab.