Sara awoke to Dawa's concerned face staring down at her. The woman and her cohort of elderly healers were sponge-bathing portions of Sara's clammy body. Something rancid filled Sara's nostrils, causing her to violently cough.
"AGH!!!!" she gasped. Her side was burning up, wild with pain. She struggled to sit up; she wanted to violently clutch at her side. "It hurts! Oh my god..." Sara moaned, searing pain radiating through her torso.
Dawa's hand gently pushed Sara back to the bed, until she lay fully horizontal on the sheets. She spoke in a foreign tongue to the healers, a one-way communication channel that issued swift instructions. Robed women trotted quickly about the room carrying cloths, buckets of steaming and cold water, bandages, teapots, smoking clumps of herbs... it would have been comical if not for the intensity of the pain. Sara glimpsed the open wound underneath her right ribs, where Ra's al Ghul had impaled her with a spear. That man is fucking crazy. This whole place is crazy! Her mind reeled with feverish staccato, searching for some peace.
She found it through Dawa's gesturing and rapt attention to her needs. The elderly healer sat next to the bed and placed cool cloths on Sara's forehead. The moisture soothed the incessant burning. The woman hummed softly as she worked, which gave Sara the chance to let go of controlling her body-- she began to focus on her breathing, counting in for two and out for two. The rhythm helped ease her mind into a more passive state. Flecks of subconscious negative self-talk gripped at the edges of her mind, but she moved it away from her consciousness with every exhalation.
That is, until she heard her voice. Nyssa.
Sara was already soaked with sweat, but hearing the stern purrs of Ra's al Ghul's daughter-- alive and well-- threw Sara into shock. Her limbs convulsed on the table and she grimaced, biting inside her cheek as her muscles flailed. I am going to die, she thought. Nyssa is going to kill me here. Her wild blue eyes searched for the assassin, for a weapon, for some measure of hope.
Instead, she met the cold steel of Nyssa's gaze. Except, the woman's eyes were not distant and frigid. They looked concerned. Dawa's hand landed atop Sara's forehead again and forcibly moved her back to the bed, gesturing to Nyssa. It felt like Dawa was explaining, with her hands, all the damage that Sara had incurred because Nyssa soon nodded and moved to a dresser. Sara sweat out beads of fear watching the predatory woman move about the room. Nyssa withdrew an item from the drawer, a bottle. She uncorked it and brought it over to Sara, whose legs jerked to try and free her from the healers' immobilization.
Nyssa bent over Sara and placed the bottle under Sara's nose. She breathed in and was surprised to inhale a tangy, sweet scent. The oil wafted around Sara and made her feel light and heavy at the same time. She closed her eyes when the smell of lavender and lemon floated in, followed by an aroma of soft citrus. The smell reminded Sara of her mom, who used to read old manuscripts at the kitchen table while a slow burning citrus candle sat vigil as her companion.
Sara looked up at Nyssa. This is the closest they had physically been since the attack in the cavern, and Sara's eyes, full of remorse and confusion, searched Nyssa's.
Nyssa seemed to intercept Sara's thoughts through her gaze. "Focus on healing yourself," she said, hushed. "We will have plenty of time to discuss recompense for what happened in the mountain. I am not here to threaten your life or amplify your pain."
For the first time, Sara saw something different in Nyssa. The woman seemed less guarded; perhaps it was the calming effect of the aromatherapy oils and the cool cloths, beginning to soothe Sara's aching pain... Nevertheless, Sara felt as if she now glimpsed Nyssa the woman instead of Nyssa the trained killer, daughter of Ra's al Ghul. Conceiving of her as two distinct persons was strange but Sara had nothing else to compare the experience with-- Nyssa's unexpected kindness clouded her initially stark perception of the woman.
Sara felt safe now, wherever she was, with Nyssa and the healers. That would suffice.
Nyssa retreated from Sara and walked back over to the dresser, placing the bottle back in the drawer and gingerly removing articles of clothing. The healers helped Nyssa undress. Sara noticed that Nyssa silently flinched here and there as fingertips eased pieces of her outfit off tender skin. The raven haired woman never voiced that she had any ounce of discomfort, never complaining with the steady movements, but Sara could sense that Nyssa experienced a good deal of pain.
Nyssa was half nude, her bare back facing Sara. Sara could see the sensuous curves of the woman's body, laced with muscle underneath her skin. Nyssa felt Sara's eyes on her and turned to face her, her onyx eyes meeting Sara's without any shame at her nakedness.
Sara caught sight of Nyssa's front... her gorgeous skin and breasts, her crafted abdominal muscles. She averted her gaze, her face feeling feverish again. She eagerly tapped Dawa's arm for attention, motioning that she wanted another cool washcloth placed on her forehead. The healer obliged and clicked disapprovingly at Nyssa, who was now fully naked. Nyssa's mouth curved into a half smile and she nodded respectfully to Dawa.
Sara, with her eyes still closed, spoke, "I'm sorry, Nyssa." She felt like the meager apology wasn't nearly enough for almost killing the woman.
Sensing Nyssa's powerful gaze, Sara opened her eyes again. "You did no harm, Sara Lance. It was my folly that led to this outcome." She paused, looking Sara up and down. "Swallow your guilt, Ta-er al Sa-fer. You will need to remember the skills you employed in a day's time, when your training pushes you to the brink once more." Sara took in the full sight of Nyssa, regally poised there in front of her, in naught but her skin. How was it that that woman was clothed with confidence and Sara felt so exposed?
Nyssa turned to walk to the bathroom, where a welcoming steam rose from the tub that Sara had bathed in before the mountain. Sara saw that Nyssa's acid burns were completely gone... her eyes opened wide. How could Nyssa be in pain if she has been healed? How was she healed?
Sara moved the washcloth over her face, which now burned with the fire of recognition. She remembered the Pits... the memory had been so obscured, untouchable for about a week now... but there it was, a conflagration in Sara's mind. She covered her face with both hands, ignoring the pain in her abdomen as her muscles moved overhead. Something had taken over her in the pools... something powerful had changed her, had caused her to kiss Nyssa. The memory ached in her lips and she motioned for water.
She heard the woman's order from the room over. "Focus your mind on recuperation. You have one day before our starting point."
The water from the bath splashed and Nyssa sank in, silent and calm. Sara, however, lay on the bed, her senses fully awakened. The pleasure of distant memory and the pain of her current condition carried her world to separate places. Her mind hung in the balance and she closed her eyes, letting the healers continue their handiwork of stitching her wounds.
There was too much to sift through right now and all she wanted to do was fly away from it all. She needed to be as present as possible to survive her next step. Heaving intermittent sighs and grimacing from hurt, Sara breathed in the lavender and citrus again.
She let her focus wander off to the comforting arms of her mother's memory, until finally she fell asleep.