The lights in the room were way too bright for her comfort. Her head was pounding as it was, the lights only amplified the throbbing in her head. She could hear voices around her, strange voices she couldn't quite identify. Her eyelids were still heavy, and she felt her heart start pounding faster, echoed by the beeping of a heart monitor nearby. She strained to hear more, and finally making out the voices of her parents, her eyelids slowly fluttered open.
Nira squinted around the brightly lit hospital room. She stopped when she spotted the concerned faces of her mother and father, each leaning over the sides of her bed. A man she could only assume to be a doctor stood behind them.
"Oh Nira, honey. We're so glad you're okay." said her mother, taking her daughters hand in hers and squeezing a little too tightly for Nira's liking.
"How are you feeling, hun?" asked her father.
Nira thought for a moment. "I feel like I got hit by a building" she said, hoping to lighten the mood of the tense hospital room. She could see in her parent's faces that they didn't find her answer humorous at all. Correcting herself, she said "I'm fine, my body hurts, but I'll survive."
She shifted in her bed and found that her head wasn't the only thing that was hurting. She felt sore, as if her entire body was bruised. One spot on her stomach was especially in pain whenever she moved.
"Your body took quite a beating when that ceiling collapsed on you. Aside from a broken rib, everything else is minor. You have a few cuts and bruises but they will heal." the doctor said. "I've prescribed some medication for you to pick up when you get released."
"When will that be?" asked her mother.
"No later than tomorrow. We want to keep you overnight just in case. If you need me, make sure to press the button on the side. Excuse me." And with that the doctor left.
Alone with her parents she asked, "How did I get out of the rubble?"
Her parents didn't answer. Instead they looked at each other for a second before looking back to her. "One of the Shadow Warriors was there. He pulled you out."
Nira looked at her father. A Shadow Warrior? She had only heard about them in the news. They were...well, shadows. No one knew what they looked like, or who they were. They only dropped in when there were incidents the police couldn't handle. Nira guessed that included natural disasters too. "I don't understand. I was only there for a short while after the earthquake struck. How did he get there so fast?" she asked.
"I dunno, hun. I'm just thankful he did." He gave her a small smile before giving her other hand a quick squeeze.
Nira's parents stayed with her until nighttime, when they bid a tearful goodbye and promised to be back early the next morning to get her home.
The soreness in Nira's body and the exhaustion of the days events were enough to bury Nira in a deep sleep, unaware of a certain green pair of eyes watching over her from afar.
As promised, Nira's parents were there for her early in the morning, and after picking up some medication from the pharmacy, and a breakfast bagel from the hospital cafeteria, they were well on their way to Nira's apartment in the city. Passing the Wayward Coffee Shop, she could see the building was still intact, with just broken windows and a large hole in the ceiling near the doorway where she assumed she was standing under when it collapsed. Unfortunately, many of the buildings in the same area didn't look much different. Many were still standing, but some weren't as lucky. The older buildings and shops had completely collapsed and would have to be completely rebuilt. Nira could feel the tears coming along, but before they could spill, her father caught her attention.
"So what are you going to do meanwhile, hun? "he asked.
"Ooooh, she can come stay with us, James. I could clean up her bedroom and we can take care of her until she feels better. What do you say Nira?"asked her mother excitedly.
Nira had to take a minute to think about her answer before replying. As much as she appreciated the offer to move back in with her parents, she knew she would only feel worse by depending on other people. She was comfortable in her small apartment, and she felt better if she was independent, even if it meant struggling to get up and about.
"Oh mom, I don't know about that. I think I'll be okay at my own place." she said hesitantly, hoping her mom wouldn't push it. Luckily, she didn't.
"Alright honey, but remember that we're just a call away," she told her daughter.
With that, her father pulled into the garage of her apartment complex. Nira felt a sense of relief when she got out of the car. The first thing she wanted to do was head up to her place and call Katie. She wanted to know how she was doing, and if Mrs. Evans and Mr. Walters were doing alright. She had been thinking about them when she was at the hospital, but she didn't think she could handle any more bad news if she had asked her parents. Luckily they didn't seem to distraught about anything else except for their daughter, so she took that as a good sign as they rode the elevator up to her floor.
Reaching their destination, her parents helped her get to her door, and with some more tearful goodbyes resembling those of the night before and a last "call if you need anything", her parents left.
Watching as her parent's made their way down the hall to the elevator, she noticed one of the doors of the hall was open, and she could see movement inside.
That's strange. No one ever leaves their doors open unless...
Could it be possible someone was breaking into an apartment? Or was she just being paranoid?
Grabbing her keys and making sure there was one key in between each finger for protection, she limped her way down the hall. When she reached the door she debated whether to peek in like a weirdo or to just open it and see what was happening. Opting for the former, she leaned as close to the wall as she could, and tried to listen.
She could hear voices coming from inside. The crack in the door only offered her a vision of the cream colored wall that she assumed was part of the living room, but she was able to see shadows moving across.
"I can't believed you actually moved out here by yourself. We were fine before she came along."
"I already told you why I decided to move here. Besides, its not far from you guys, and I prefer living among the people. We can get to know them better, and that information will help us out in the long run"
Nira could make out two voices, both male. They sounded like they were arguing. She concluded that they were indeed new neighbors of hers, and just as she was about to head back to her apartment, she heard a third voice. One that sounded much younger than the other two.
"I'm really going to miss you, Drew. I can't believe you're leaving me alone with Colt. He's going to make me do all the shitty jobs." the voice whined.
Nira couldn't help the small giggle that escaped her lips when she heard that last remark. Putting her ear back against the door, she was shocked at finding the voices had stopped talking. She couldn't even hear or see movement anymore.
Before she could decide on what to do next, the door in front of her face flew open and she found herself staring into a pair of green eyes.