Pain! Searing, agonizing pain. Water filling my lungs, pushing me, pulling me. I can't- I can't breathe! I can't move! I can't STOP moving- the water won't stop. I can't find up or down or-
Blackness. Blessed peace...
More pain! Cold air against skin. Someone flipping me onto my back, bright sunlight blinding me. I scream...I think...I don't know. Whispered words, soft, caressing, warmth spreading and soothing frayed nerves.
I blink past the light into honeyed eyes and a caring smile. I try to smile back...and fall into blackness once more...
Waking this time was better, still a shitload of pain, but not the agony of drowning. The lighting was soft, like flickering candles, much easier on the eyes. Voices, soft and whispering, were arguing somewhere in the room. I needed to turn my head to see them, but it hurts just a little too much. It can wait.
I'm in a bed, but it doesn't feel like my mattress. It's too lumpy, as though filled with straw ticking as opposed to my Seally Ultracoil. The pillow beneath my head is goose down, cradling my skull, soft and pliant. A handknit wool blanket wraps around my waist and legs, which I now realize are bare, and I pray that no one noticed the scars or lumps of badly set bone.
A face moves into my field of vision and that's when I realize that I must still be out of it, still dreaming. I've seen this face a thousand times, flashing across my television screen, stealing my heart, then breaking it to a million pieces. And yet, here he is, smiling beatifically at me with those sparkling honey coloured eyes.
"How are you doing?" he asks, and- oh yes!- the voice so matches those eyes and that smile and I want to reach out to kiss him, or cry, or...something. He places a hand to my forehead and I feel his soothing magic wash over me- a delving, searching for any new or continuing medical issues.
How do I know this? This sort of thing was never covered in the game! But I just do apparently. After a few moments, he helps me to sit up a bit against the pillows, then brings a crude wooden cup up to my lips. Blessedly cool water to quench a throat I didn't even realized was parched.
This isn't possible! "My name is Anders," I know! "what's yours?"
I try to answer, I really do, but all I can get out is a groan of pain, and Anders frowns slightly. He sets the cup down on a nearby table, and reaches out with his magic once again. He finds the spot where the worst of the pain is radiating, a knot of twisted muscle in the small of my back and soothes it away. Another groan, though this one in relief, and Anders chuckles.
"If you are quite finished, Mage, perhaps we can interrogate her now?" another voice asks and I am forced to suppress the shiver that wants to invade my spine. Gravel, covered in chocolate. Oh, how I know that voice. I look beyond Anders shoulder to see the elf leaning deceptively casual against a nearby fireplace, cold and unlit. Olive skinned, white hair with dark brows, long pointed ears peeking from beneath the strands. Green eyes you could drown in so easily. White markings, twisting and turning, peeking out from beneath skin tight black armor.
"Leave it, Fenris," Anders growled. "She's obviously in no condition to be answering your questions right now."
Oh, I've got questions of my own right now, there, buddy! What the FUCK am I doing here? If these are a couple of cosplayers They are the best I've ever seen! Except, of course, that Fenris and Anders would rather try dancing with a bronto that work together without the unifying force of-
"Guys? Are you up here?" a voice called, a deep rumble tinged with a touch of laughter.
"Here, Hawke," Fenris answered and I glanced towards the nearby door. Moments later it was filled with a large specimen of man. Broad shoulders tapering to a slim waist and fit legs. Thick black hair and trim beard framing beautiful blue eyes. I remembered him so well. This was my favourite incarnation of Hawke, the witty charming warrior, quick with a smile and lascivious overture.
"How is she doing, Anders?" he asked, coming closer to the bed. He looked down at me and smiled, a quick quirk of the lips that spread slowly to encompass his face before finally entering his eyes. God help you if the smile didn't reach his eyes.
"Just woke up, Hawke," Anders told him. "We were about to chat just a bit, you're just in time."
Hawke and Anders smile down at me, and I have to admit, it pulled at something low and deep in my body. They were so damned beautiful! Fenris continued to scowl and that was even better- worse- whatever. These were my boys when I played the game, my near-constant companions and here they were, so very real and touchable.
Maybe I died and this is Heaven or Hell or Detroit or something...
I tried to speak, but at first all that came out was a strangled gasp. Anders brought the wooden cup back to my lips and I sipped a bit more water then tried again. "My...my name is Selena." It came out as a whisper.
"Selena? My name is-"
"Anders- yes, I know."
Fenris roared and dove towards me, lighting up in that terrifyingly beautiful way. Hawke spun and grabbed him about the waist, keeping him from removing one or more of my really important body parts. Well, guess he didn't really like my knowing Anders' name.
"Have we met?" the mage asked me, peering into my face more closely. "I see alot of patients in my clinic, but I'd like to think I'd remember someone as pretty as you."
I smiled slightly, knowing he was being kind. I know I'm not pretty. I'm a forty year old mother with teenage children. I'm packing a fair bit of extra pounds, going gray, sagging in all the wrong places. "No, but you guys are the most amazing cosplayers I've ever seen. I mean, a straw mattress even? I'm impressed."
The boys glanced in confusion at each other- and anger in Fenris' case- then turned back to me. "Cosplayers?"Hawke asked, stammering over a seemingly unfamiliar word.
"Yeah, you know, someone who dresses up as their favourite character from a game or book or movie. You guys are doing Anders, Fenris and Hawke from Dragon Age. And really well, by the way."
I look from one face to another and they seem even more confused than before. And either these guys are Oscar-worthy actors...or I'm just really, really...