***** Hi my lovely, you're about to read the unedited version of Always. I'm currently in the process of rewriting and editing this story. Enjoy*****
What seemed like an eternity of silence and darkness was finally broken. Vincent slowly blinked his eyes against the harsh white light that flooded his vision, trying to make the blurry shapes around him become clear. A persistent beeping noise sounded from his left, making the dull ache in his head worsen.
If he already didn’t feel out of place, he certainly became jarred with confusion when he realized that he was in a hospital room.
A strange hospital room.
The sterile, white walls of the hospital room came into focus. It looked like something out of science fiction literature the monastery banned from its grounds. Corruption ran rampant in the world. Science fiction was a distraction from God’s word.
Vincent tried to sit up, but his body felt like it was weighed down by a ton of bricks. It also didn’t help that he was hooked up by countless tubes and wires that led to some sort of glowing machine next to his bed. Where was he? His mind strained to remember his last memory.
Then it struck him like a crack of lightning. The white walls of the hospital room bled away into a dark room lit by candlelight. He wasn’t in a hospital bed. He was in a sickbed in his chamber in the monastery, surrounded by priests who were murmuring prayers. Darkness had overtaken him, and he had prepared to go to heaven.
This couldn’t be heaven, but he had no idea where he was. He grunted as he tried to sit up again, needing to find some help so that he could figure out what happened. He obviously hadn’t died somehow, but he wasn’t at home where he was supposed to be.
“Eton?” the shocked voice of a man came from his right.
Vincent turned to find a man who was seated in a chair next to his bedside. The man wore strange clothes— a black button-down and black slacks, perfectly tailored. The style and cut were nothing he was familiar with. His dark, tousled hair was perfectly styled. It framed his face, adding a touch of rugged charm to his otherwise polished appearance. But there was a hint of danger about him, too. Something foreboding that Vincent couldn’t quite place. Maybe it was the way those deep, penetrating amber eyes were staring at him in shock.
He didn’t recognize the man, though, and he didn’t know who Eton was.
“Pardon?” he replied, his voice coming out weak and scratchy. It felt like he hadn’t spoken in a long time. An ache echoed through his throat and refused to go away.
“Eton!” The man practically jumped from his seat, hurrying over to Vincent’s bedside with wide, excited eyes.
"It's me, Ian." He took Vincent’s hand in his, shaking his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe this. You’re actually awake!”
Vincent looked down at their joined hands, feeling a wave of confusion crash down onto him. When he lifted his gaze towards the man, he suddenly became aware of the close proximity, their faces almost touching, hinting at an impending kiss.
Vincent yanked his hand away and jerked back, away from the man.
“W-who are you?”
He didn’t know anyone named Ian. Where were his fellow priests from the monastery? Had they sent him to this strange place? Maybe he was in Europe. They were always creating odd schemes and inventions there.
The man's smile immediately plummeted off his face as he stared down at Vincent.
“Ian… your husband,” he replied.
Vincent’s eyes shot wide open in surprise, his jaw dropping open.
His face scrunched at the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard.
“What do you mean by husband? I am a man of God!”
Vincent fixed him with a lethal gaze, his intense eyes locking onto Ian, while he struggled to catch his breath after expending energy by raising his voice.
“I would never defile myself by lying with another man. Marriage between men is forbidden! A sin!”
A beat passed before he went on to add, “And I do not know this Eton you mentioned.”
Ian looked like he had just gotten slapped in the face. He took a moment before grabbing Vincent’s shoulders firmly but not unkind. He leaned close again, but his expression was far different from before. He now looked confused and concerned as compared to his initial shock and excitement.
“I don’t know if your brains are scrambled or something, but you are Eton. Eton Meyers. You were born in 2002 in New York. We had just gotten married before you were shot and put into a coma for two years,” he said.
Vincent could only stare at Ian in disbelief, trying to process all of the unfamiliar information that the man was saying. None of it made any sense. This Ian person must’ve had the wrong guy.
He shook his head.
“You’re wrong. My name is Vincent Thompson. I've never been married. I'm a priest!" Vincent snapped at Ian, "And what are you saying about 2002? We are in the year of our Lord 1935!”
With what little strength he had, Vincent practically pushed him aside, attempting to create as much distance as possible. For some reason, the man's close proximity unsettled him, creating a sense of unease deep within Vincent's core.
Ian stumbled back, narrowing his eyes in confusion and shock. He raked his hand into his hair, taking a deep breath then letting it out slowly through his nose.
“Look, I know you’re confused and probably scared, but don’t push me away, Eton,” he said. “I waited by your bedside every day for two years! They told me to give up and let you go, but I couldn’t. I had to give you a fighting chance.”
Vincent felt discomfort fill him as he listened to Ian’s words. He would never commit such a thing, but this man seemed so convinced that they had been in a relationship together. And what is this place? Where was he? Where was everyone? Vincent cast his eyes warily around the unfamiliar room.
None of this made sense. Heat started to rise in his face, a lightheaded sensation striking him.
“I need to use the restroom,” Vincent breathed out, needing cold water on his face. Maybe this was just a bad dream that he would wake up from once water hits his face. Yes. There was no way any of this was real.
Ian moved closer to Vincent’s bedside, to help him sit up but Vincent stopped him with a glare. He really didn't want the guy touching him.
“I’m only trying to help, Eton, and you don’t actually need to get up and go to the bathroom. A catheter was inserted to help drain your urine.” Ian said, “ You've been in a coma for a while, and your body might be weak. It's best if you don't strain yourself right now.”
Confusion washed over Vincent. "Catheter? What... what is that?"
Ian frowned at his question, as if what Vincent had asked was out of place or stupid. Or something he should have already known the answer to. He stepped forward and propped the pillow behind Vincent’s back, making him flinch.
"It's a thin tube that the nurse inserted into your bladder to help with urinary function. However, if you feel up to it, I can let them remove the catheter and help you to the bathroom.”
A flush of embarrassment tinged Vincent's cheeks crimson. The thought of an invasive tube inside him made him squirm, and the notion of someone touching his most intimate place sent a shiver down his spine.
"No, I... I want to try to go to the bathroom," he stammered. Yes, better to use the bathroom so he could take this catheter out himself.
Ian's worried gaze met Vincent's, "Are you sure?”
Vincent had never seen deep amber eyes like the ones staring down at him. It suddenly made him feel hot and dizzy. He really needed water on his face.
"I'll be fine," Vincent insisted, mustering a resolve that matched his determination. He shifted his legs under the white sheets, feeling an ache just from the motion. He breathed in and out heavily, doing his best to untangle himself from the tubes and wires and move toward the edge of the bed at the same time. The exertion made him feel even dizzier.
When Ian made a move to help him, Vincent's body tensed as he shot him a glare.
“Don’t please… don’t touch me.”
Ian scoffed. “You haven’t walked in two years. You think you’re just going to waltz into the bathroom?” He gestured to the door to the bathroom across the room.
“I’ll get the nurse,” Ian sighed, grabbing some sort of device attached to Vincent’s bed and hitting a red button. “I should’ve done that sooner.”
A minute later, a young nurse with pinned up red hair hurried into the room with an older doctor on her heels.
“Mr. Barabossa is awake,” she gasped.
“I’m not Mr. Barabossa,” Vincent growled, feeling tired of being called someone else’s name twice now. He thought that Ian was mistaken, but it seemed like everyone else was either confused or stupid.
“He’s acting a little funny. He needs to go to the bathroom, though,” Ian explained to the doctor.
“Mr. Barabossa, I’m Dr. Pluskota,” the doctor introduced himself as he helped the nurse unhook Vincent from some of the tubes and wires to free him from the bed. “You’ve been in a coma for the past two years. What do you last remember?”
“I was sick in the monastery. I was ready to go to Heaven,” Vincent said, carefully sitting up as the nurse guided him off his back.
Dr. Pluskota scratched at the dark hair on the back of his head, sharing a look with Ian.
“Confusion is normal at first. Let’s run some tests and make sure everything is alright,” he told Ian. “I’ll get a resident to come get him after he gets done in the restroom. This is good news, Mr. Barabossa.”
Nausea filled Vincent when he realized that they thought he shared the same last name as Ian. He couldn’t tolerate such a thought, but his focus quickly turned to the question of where he was.
“Alright, let’s get the catheter out,” the nurse said as she started to lift the hem of Vincent’s hospital gown.
Vincent flinched away from her, almost kicking her with his foot.
“Oh, I… I’m sorry. A-are you going to…” Vincent sputtered, mortified that the nurse was going to be the one to take it out. His eyes darted between Dr. Pluskota and Ian.
“It will only take a moment.” The nurse smiled at him reassuringly as she tried to pry the gown from Vincent’s fist.
“No! No! I’ll do it myself!” Vincent shifted almost falling off the bed. Had it not been Ian’s saving hand, he would have landed on the cold, hard floor.
“Mr. Barabossa, I—”
“I think we should let him be; he is not himself,” Ian interjected, cutting the nurse off. Vincent breathed out, but his relief was cut short by the words that followed.
“I’ll help him,” Ian said, reaching out to take Vincent’s arm to guide him off the bed.
Vincent wanted to tell Ian to back off, but he also wanted to get away from this woman—nurse—who seemed so eager to get under his gown and touch his member. Did she have no shame? She didn’t even hesitate that there were other men in the room!
His legs started to ache, threatening to give out, and as much as he didn’t want Ian to touch him, Vincent was forced to lean against Ian’s side, using him for stability as he stiffly shuffled his feet across the white tile. His whole body hurt so bad. Even walking was hard.
Vincent gritted his teeth, letting Ian lead him into the bathroom until he reached the sink. But God have mercy, there was no way he was letting Ian get anywhere near his member to take out the damn catheter.
“Back off. I don’t need your help,” Vincent grunted as he gripped the sink, leaning his weight on it.
Ian looked stung, but he didn’t say anything, merely taking a step back from Vincent to give him some space.
Vincent’s arms and legs shook slightly as they fought against his body weight. He stared down at his hands for a moment, noticing how different they looked. His fingers were longer than he remembered. He lifted his head to peer into the mirror in front of him, and his blood ran cold.
Instead of seeing his own short, black hair and brown eyes, a younger man with wavy, grown-out, blond hair and gray-toned eyes stared back at him.
This wasn’t him.
Who was he?
Before he could answer that question, his body lost all weight, and the room went dark.