Langdon groaned. It felt like she was waking up with her head under a pillow, a very heavy, painful pillow. She didn't rush to open her eyes as her senses began reporting in. She was cold and tired, the faint smell of antiseptic reached her nose, and odd, muffled noises floated around her. And her head hurt. Oh God, did her head hurt. She groaned again and forced her eyes open wide enough to squint. Was that a patterned curtain? Wait, she thought. I know this place. I'm in the hospital? Strong fingers squeezed her hand and she risked turning her head, blinking furiously to bring the face into focus.
"Lang?" The relief in his hazel eyes was apparent as she furrowed her brow. "Jesus, Lang, you had us all so worried." He shifted his grip on her hand to cup her cheek in his palm.
"Connor?" Her throat felt raw as she swallowed, but she studied his face carefully. It was definitely Connor. He was such a big goofball. Even now, as tired as he looked, his brown hair was mussed just enough to be stylish without being sloppy and he couldn't keep a smile from turning up the corner of his mouth in the beginning of a grin. Rough and tumble didn't begin to describe her friend, and she had a feeling that somehow this hospital bed had to do with something he had goaded her into doing. But as glad as she was to see him, she wondered where her best friend was. Where was Katie? She closed her eyes as his thumb ran along her cheek and he pressed a kiss to her forehead.
"You have no idea how glad I am to see you awake again," Connor whispered.
Langdon regarded him with wide, confused eyes. "Why are you being so weird?" she whispered.
"Langdon!" a voice boomed from the right side of the bed. She started and turned to stare at the stranger in the white coat. Obviously a doctor, she eyed him cautiously, youngish, maybe a few years older than herself, handsome. She shook herself, he's the doctor, calm down. The doctor smiled at her apparent attention and set the chart down on the foot of the bed. "Let's see how you're doing, hm?" Langdon smiled weakly. Odd that he didn't introduce himself, she thought as she nodded. He took down her vitals before pulling a penlight from his pocket. "How are you feeling?"
"Um... Ok," she answered unconvincingly.
The doctor raised a brow. "Ok?"
She feigned innocence. "I hurt."
"Everywhere?" she offered pitifully.
"And what hurts the worst?" he asked, shining the light in and out of her eyes.
"My head," she muttered, blinking madly as he finally let her eyes adjust to the room lights again.
"You took a nasty fall. Follow my finger with your eyes."
Langdon stopped talking to concentrate on his movements. When he had finished, she glanced at Connor. "Fall?"
"Yes, fall." The doctor began testing her muscles and coordination. "Can you tell me what day it is?"
"Thursday? Thursday morning?"
The doctor smiled. "Friday, but close enough. You were out cold all night."
Langdon furrowed her brow. "That's nearly 24 hours."
"And, can you tell me who the president of Ireland is?" he continued unperturbed by her objection.
"I guess that's an easy one," the doctor smiled wryly. "How about the taoseach?"
"Well, it was Bertie Ahren, but the election was last month, and I never can remember that new guy's name."
The doctor paused and Langdon could hear Connor's sharp intake of breath as the two exchanged an apprehensive glance. The doctor turned his attention back to her, meeting her eyes seriously. "President of the United States?"
"George Bush?" Something was terribly wrong, and she could see it on the doctor's face. She turned to Connor. He attempted a smile but the colour had drained from his cheeks and he looked slightly ill. "Connor?" she squeaked.
"It's ok, Laney," he said gently. Laney? Her head spun. No one called her Laney except her family. He raised her knuckles to his lips and pressed a light kiss to the back of her hand. The sensation made her stomach do flip-flops, which was doing nothing for the spinning in her head.
"What did I say?" she pleaded, turning back to the doctor.
"Give me the full date, Langdon," the doctor ordered.
"July?" she whispered. "July 29, 2007."
"She must have hit her head harder than I thought," the doctor told Connor, speaking as though she were no longer in the room. "The trauma and the cold have this effect sometimes. It should pass soon."
"What should pass?" Langdon demanded, feeling her face heat. The agitation made her head throb. "What cold?"
"Langdon," the doctor tried to calm her. "You fell through the ice. In the process, you knocked your head rather hard and suffered from hypothermia."
"Ice?" she pressed her eyes shut, shaking her head. She could feel her breathing become slightly erratic, but she didn't care. "What ice? It's July!"
"Sweetie, calm down." Connor gave her shoulder a squeeze. Sweetie? she thought, but the doctor's voice broke up her train of thought.
"Langdon, it's January of 2009."
"What?" She tried to sit up, but a wave of dizziness knocked her back. "No, no, no."
"Langdon, look at me." She tried to focus on the doctor but her vision was swimming. "Langdon, it is 2009. You fell through the ice on the Liffey. You hit your head. You are obviously suffering from some mild amnesia." Langdon gulped air. She could feel Connor trying to soothe her, but it was only grating on her already desperately frayed nerves. Why did he keep touching her like that? "Langdon, you need to calm down."
"T-two y-y-years?" she stuttered between breaths. "I... I c-can't... t-two years?" She felt nauseous. She felt dizzy, and cold.
"Laney, it'll be ok," Connor whispered, capturing her face between his palms. He pressed a kiss to her cheek.
"Don't!" She pushed against his chest, holding him arms length away and staring wildly at his audacity. "W-w... what are you doing?" she gasped. The hurt on his face caught her completely off guard. Over her shoulder, an alarm went off, the electronic beeping causing her to jump. She panted, feeling as though she'd lost her wind. "Can't..." She huffed. "Can't... breathe."
"Langdon," the doctor pressed her shoulders back into the bed. "Breathe, Langdon!" She could feel her breath coming in short panicked gasps, but she couldn't control it. Her head swam and she clenched her eyes shut as an oxygen mask pressed over her nose and mouth. She couldn't get enough air; she felt that she was suffocating. The panic set in and she was hyperventilating. "Langdon!" the doctor barked. When she didn't respond, he shot a nervous glance to Connor. "She's going to hurt herself, I have to sedate her."
Connor gripped Langdon's shoulders, "Do it." Langdon felt the rush of narcotic enter her system and everything went from fuzzy to black. Her body slumped on the bed and her breathing slowly deepened into a gentle rhythm.
The doctor pressed a stethoscope to her chest, listening carefully for a few moments. He wrapped the steth around his neck with a sigh. "Let me guess, you two weren't dating in June of oh-seven."
A wry smile touched Connor's lips. "No, we didn't start dating until after that Christmas."
"Sorry, man. I should have warned you that this was possible." Connor shook his head. "I know as well as you do, Eamonn. It just scared the holy hell out of me."
Eamonn raised a brow, "Scared you? What about her?" Connor sighed sadly. "And what about me?" Eamonn complained. "I'm her doctor."
"Yeah, but I've met her brothers!" Connor whined. "They're going to kill me when they hear about this."
"Nah," Eamonn grinned. "You pulled her out of the water. You'll be safe."
"Sort of." Connor rubbed the back of his neck absently. "What do I do now?"
Eamonn paused thoughtfully. "Who has been close to her since the beginning of school that could come in?"
"She and Katie were..." Connor trailed off. "Maybe Eoin? He's always been around. They used to be really close. I'm sure he'd..."
"Have Eoin come in. Maybe she won't have as tough a time with him here." Eamonn paused at the door and turned back. "See if he can't find some pictures or something to show her, maybe jog her memory. And you stay out of sight." Connor pouted. "But..."
"No buts. It's going to take some time to heal and I can't keep doping her up if you freak her out." Eamonn grinned. "Doctor's orders."
Connor rolled his eyes.