He felt as if his body was on fire. His mind floated in and out of awareness, frantically grabbing at strands of comprehension but never quite reaching them. Questions filled his head but there were no answers.
From time to time, the sound of quiet voices came from nearby, but they were barely audible and all but incomprehensible. He recognized them - but he couldn't quite place them to a name or a face. He didn't even know his own name. Who was he? Where was he? He was lost. Trapped. Alone.
"Ambrose." There was a flash of recognition somewhere in his brain. "Glitch."
He knew those names. He knew those voices. They were... were... were... lost. He couldn't remember. Why couldn't he remember?
The flames were still there, ever present, and his body ached from the heat. His head felt as if it was going to split in two - or perhaps it already had. He was so hot. The stifling heat pressed down on him, until he was aware of nothing else.
There was a hand resting on his arm, pressing lightly against his skin. The fingers gripping him felt like ice, cool and refreshing. He could feel his body burning with fever, keeping his attention from focusing. His head was pounding, and he could barely think over the steady beat in his head.
Furrowing his brow at the familiar voice, he struggled to open his eyes. It took several attempts to get them open, and he blinked as he was all but blinded for his efforts. The hand moved from his arm, and he heard the sound of footsteps walking softly across the floor. There was a rustling sound, and the light suddenly dimmed.
As his eyes adjusted, he found himself staring at a beautiful woman standing near the window. Her hair was light and silvery, and there was a sad smile on her face.
"Welcome back, my friend," she said quietly, walking back toward the bed. "How do you feel?"
His eyes watered as he unconsciously moved, pain wracking his body. He couldn't think properly. His concentration was shaky, jumping from place to place even as he tried to focus. "Who are you?" he whispered, his voice cracking slightly.
Her face fell. "You don't remember?" she asked. "Ambrose, are you quite certain?"
Blackness appeared in the edges of his vision. Confusion rushed through him, mixed in with hope as he realized what she'd said. "Ambrose?" he repeated. The name felt familiar - not quite right, but familiar - on his tongue. "Is that my name?"
He drifted back into unconsciousness before she could answer.
He felt lips press against his for just a moment, cool compared to the fire of his own skin. His eyes were closed, and he was halfway between awakeness and unconsciousness. It felt familiar, right... safe.
A man's face flashed in his mind, light-colored hair and eyes that looked like tin. He wished he could remember a name to go with it.
"I'm sorry." The voice came from nearby, feminine and barely more than a whisper. "I'm so sorry. If I... they say it's not my fault, but I can't help wondering. What if I'd fought back more? Would it have made a difference?"
The voice trailed off.
He was exhausted, and his head throbbed with pain. The constant heat had faded, and somehow he knew that meant his fever had finally broken. But why had he had a fever in the first place? Where was he? Who was he?
"I'm sorry, Advisor Ambrose," the voice said quietly. "I knew that doesn't mean much, but I truly am sorry. I always looked up to you as a child. DG adored Toto, but I... just look what I've done to you."
There was a hint of a breeze above his head, as if the woman had started to place her hand on his forehead and changed her mind at the last second. He frowned, stirring slightly.
He heard her breath catch. "I'm so sorry," she whispered again. Then he heard the sound of footsteps.
By the time he managed to pry open his eyes, all he caught was a glimpse of dark hair as the woman slipped out the door. He couldn't see her face. Her voice, though... he'd recognized it. He knew that he'd heard it before even though he couldn't remember the circumstances.
For some reason, it sent a shiver down his spine.
There were warm hands resting on the sides of his head. For the first time he could remember, the pain was gone. He murmured slightly, trying to get his eyes to cooperate and open.
"No, no." The voice was masculine, low and gravelly like it wasn't used very often. "You must rest. Two sides become one again. Takes time."
"What does that mean?" he whispered, giving up on forcing his unwilling eyes open.
The voice didn't reply for several seconds. "Don't think. Just rest. Let your brain heal."
It felt so peaceful to have the pain gone. He could almost think. The answers were there, buried just under the surface. He just needed to stay awake, to think about... staying awake... and not....
He didn't even realize that he was falling asleep until it was too late to stop.
Someone was singing.
He didn't move for several minutes, even though he was awake. It was a beautiful sound. The pain in his head was back, but it wasn't nearly as agonizing as earlier. It was nice to lie there, not trying to remember. Without thinking, he sighed.
The singing stopped abruptly. "Glitch?" The voice sounded young. "I mean, um, Ambrose? Can you hear me?"
It took a few tries, but he finally managed to get his eyes open. There was a young woman, barely more than a girl, sitting beside his bed. Her eyes had dark circles under them, as if she hadn't been sleeping well.
"You have a lovely voice," he said, smiling weakly up at her.
She smiled back. "Thanks," she replied, reaching down to brush a few loose strands of hair out of his face. "Do you remember who I am?"
He bit his lip. The girl was familiar - he knew her. He knew that he knew her. But....
"I'm DG," she said, her smile fading a little. "And you're Glitch. Ambrose."
He frowned. "Which one?" he asked slowly.
DG laughed, a pained sound that tugged at his heart. "Both," she said, shrugging slightly, "or maybe neither. They said we won't know until you remember."
The pain in his head grew more intense with his confusion. Breathing heavily, he closed his eyes for a second and tried to calm himself down. It hurt. Why did it hurt so much?
"Glitch?" DG sounded worried. "Are you okay?"
He tried to keep his voice was showing too much pain. "Could you sing again?"
She didn't say anything for a moment or two. Then he felt her hand slip into his, and she started to sing again. Her voice was quiet and peaceful.
He fell asleep to the sound of her singing.
The next time he opened his eyes, there was a familiar man asleep in the chair beside his bed. Frowning, he sat up a little. The pain in his head had dulled to a slight ache.
As if he someone could sense that something had changed, the sleeping man crooked open an eye. Then he smiled. "Morning, princess."
It was like a dam had broken. He gasped as he sat up straight. Memories rushed back, flooding in from wherever they had been hiding in the deep parts of his mind. He'd been Ambrose, royal advisor to the queen herself. Two little girls running around his feet as he spoke with their mother. Azkadelia being taken over by witch, taking away everything that made him the man he was. Fifteen years of hell: pain, fear, confusion, never knowing. DG falling back into a world that she knew nothing about. Cain. Raw. The Sun Seeder - his Sun Seeder - being used against the O. Z. So many of his inventions being used for evil. The return of Light. The surgery, meant to return him to who he was if it went well.
Cain. Wyatt Cain. The man who was sitting beside his bed, a worried look on his face.
"I remember," Ambrose whispered. No, not Ambrose. Glitch. Ambrose. Glitch. What was it DG had said? "Both. Or maybe neither." He remembered. Years as Glitch. Even more years as Ambrose. They were both him. "I remember everything."
Cain's expression didn't change, but there was relief in his eyes as he sat up straighter and stretched. "Good," he said simply. "Now go back to sleep."
Ambrose. Glitch. In the end, he supposed the name didn't really matter that much. He was both of them, and they were him. It was... it was... he didn't know how to explain it, even to himself.
"Damn it, Glitch, you're supposed to be resting." Cain scowled as he got out of his chair and pushed Glitch back down onto the bed. His eyes felt heavy almost instantly.
Glitch smiled tiredly up at him as his eyes grew heavier. "Love you too, sweetheart," he said with a wink.
Cain chuckled in reply. Grinning sleepily, Glitch closed his eyes and let himself drift off to sleep.