This story is not intended to make light of drug abuse, rather, when we play the video games, it's a virtual world, nobody gets truly hurt. This story deals with the ramifications of those bone-cracking, spine-jarring moves we see done and shrugged off. __________ Wham. Christie's body slammed into the floor yet again. Her torso was already beginning to bruise up; to say nothing of how terrible that was going to look the next day. Christie crumpled into a heap again. King looked sympathetically down at her. "Christie... just stay down, and then I don't have to do this anymore." He was almost pleading with her. "Just submit, or stay down, the fight will be over, we can stop this." Christie would not submit, her pride too much. She strained her arm muscles to push herself to her hands and knees. King pleaded again. "Christie..." he shook his head sadly. She took a weak swing at him from her knees that had no impact behind it. King shook his head, and then grabbed a hold of her, and hooked her up again, throwing her backwards in a T-bone suplex. Christie flew through the air and crash-landed hard again, and this time did not get up. Her torso and ribs were starting to turn blue and black. She was going to look bad tomorrow. Finally, King was declared the victor when Christie blacked out from the excruciating pain. __________ "uunhhh.." Christie weakly moaned. Her eyes flitted open. She was back in her room, and Julia was sitting beside her. "About time you woke up. How do you feel?" Christie tried to sit up and winced. "Ow... bit of a nasty fight, was it?" Julia nodded. "Yeah, you took a major shit-kicking. Also, your stomach looks brutal. Brace yourself." Julia held up a mirror for Christie to see without moving. Her ribs and stomach were an oily looking mess of blue, green and yellow. "That's the bruising from the eleven suplexes King hit you with. You wouldn't stay down; he started looking remorseful after the sixth, but there's still a fight to win... he began talking to you after the 8th. If I had to guess, he was telling you not to get up, but you kept trying to... so he had to throw you again. Finally you were knocked out and they could help you. Amazingly, nothing is broken. I would have expected you to have broken ribs at the very least, but the doctors say it's just really bad bruising and there isn't much they can do for you, so they figured there was no point keeping you in a bed they can use for someone else and they discharged you. There's some pain medication on your end table by the bed here if you need it. If you need anything, you know where to find your friends, and you know we'll be there to help." "Okay, Julia. Thanks." Julia left her room, and Christie began reading one of her favourite novels. Mindlessly, she shifted in bed, and pain exploded through her ribs. Wincing, she took a couple of her pills, and drifted off to sleep. __________ Two days after her fight, she felt worse than ever. The pastiche of bruising seemed ever-shifting. Like a sunset, it seemed to change colour every minute. Christie had taken a couple of her pills before breakfast, and it was lunch now. Wait. Had she taken them? She didn't remember. She was still in a lot of pain, so clearly she had not. She went back to her room slowly and took a couple more painkillers. Then she trudged out of her room, arm wrapped around her stomach as she had to in order to even get around. She bumped into Lili, who hadn't seen Christie either. "Owwww..." she moaned and dropped to one knee, wincing. "Why don't you look... oh! Christie, I'm sorry.. I didn't see you. Are you alright?" Lili kneeled down beside Christie. "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there." Christie managed to get back to her feet. "Are you okay?" Lili asked again. "Yeah, it... it just hurts, is all." "I know what it's like to be that beat up, believe me, I feel bad for you. And, uh.. for what it's worth anyway, if you need me to do anything, let me know, huh?" Christie was slightly taken aback, Lili seemed genuine about it. "Alright, I will. Thanks, Lili." Christie made her way downstairs for lunch. By mid-afternoon, Christie had started feeling slightly fuzzy and lightheaded, as if she had just started to feel the effects of alcohol. Uhoh, she thought. I think I doubled up my meds... but yet... I don't hurt so much. Maybe that's what I needed and this is just a side effect? They happen, right? Right... She took a couple more of her pills. She had decided carrying them with her was easier than going up and down the stairs all the time. She settled back into the large cushy chair she had taken up residence in in the recreation room and went back to her book. Julia poked her head through the door. "Christie?" she called. "Just wanted to see how you were doing." "Oh, I'm... I'm doing okay. I appreciate you check.. checking on me." Damn it, she thought. I seem to be tripping over words. "Okay, just wanted to know. Let me know if you need anything." She smiled and left. Christie was starting to feel drained, so she put her book aside and settled in to sleep in the chair. "Christie, wake up. It's supper time." Julia was gently shaking her. "Wha.. huh? I just drifted off..." She looked at her watch. "It's seven o'clock? How long have I been sleeping?" "Well I checked in on you at 3:30... you were reading then. So it was some time after that." "It was immediately after that, actually. I've been asleep for three and a half hours? Wow... Okay, I'll be along in a bit." Julia left. Oh, that means it's time again... Christie popped a couple more painkillers and slowly got out of the chair. "Hey, I must be feeling...ing better... not as much pain..." Christie trudged off to the mess hall. __________ Christie woke up with a sharp stab in her ribs. "Aughnnnn... son of a... when am I going to get better, it's been a week..." She reached for her pill bottle and took one. "I know, I'll take half the amount, but I'll take it twice as fast...that should mean it will work constantly..." Looking at her clock, she rolled back over to sleep. Her alarm went off at 8 AM. Christie grumbled. She didn't seem rested. Pill time. She took one and pocketed the bottle. She got up and had to sit back down as a wave of dizziness crashed over her and threatened to upend her. Shaking her head to clear it, she went downstairs to the mess hall for breakfast. Her friends were sitting at their usual table. Asuka looked her up and down and said "Christie, are you feeling okay? You look awful." Christie cracked a grin. "Thanks friend, you're none too regal yourself. I'm fine, thanks." Asuka pushed her. "No, I mean it, you've got dark circles under your eyes and you seem tired. You're sure you're alright?" Christie was slightly annoyed. "I told you, I'm fine. I'm doing alright." Asuka dropped it, and they began to chatter away. Only a couple hours after breakfast, Christie had taken down another pill. She wouldn't admit it, but she was feeling side effects. They weren't really side effects, but she believed they were, and so she said nothing, thinking them normal. "I'll be healed soon and then I'll be fine... I won't have to do this forever..." She had just settled into sleep when the call for lunch came. Christie groggily opened her eyes. It seemed like she was able to lose large chunks of time lately. She'd been sleeping again. But then why didn't she feel rested? Taking another pill, she slowly got out of the chair, and got into the lunch line behind Julia. She had been standing there, and then she got the momentary sensation of falling. She quickly found out why as she had lurched into Julia. Julia spun around and caught her, her reflexes quite amazing. "Hey! Are you alright? Christie... tell me what's the matter. It looks like something is wrong." "I'm fine, I'm jusht tired. I haven't been shleeping good... these shtupid pillsh. I'm okay, I shwear, I'm just not very reshted, it seems." Julia looked at her warily. "Maybe you should go lay down for a bit. You don't have to eat if you're that tired. Come on, I'll help you upstairs." Julia helped Christie up to her room and into her bed. "I'm serious here, you give me a call if you need something. I'll keep my phone on me. Okay?" "I will, thanks for your help." Christie waited until Julia had left, and when she was sure she was gone, she took another pill. _________ Christie didn't wake up until 8 PM. Supper would have been served by now, and everybody playing games or listening to music, or watching TV. She quickly took a couple of painkillers. "unnngg... I feel dreadful. I should go have shomething to eat." She slowly got up, and stumbled, catching herself against the door frame. She had shuffled halfway down the upstairs hallway when she suddenly collapsed unconscious, crashing face first to the floor and frothing at the mouth. Lili heard it outside her room, as she never spent time with anyone else. "What the heck was that", she wondered. She took off her headphones and opened her door. "Oh my God, Christie!" Lili opened one of her eyes with her thumb and index finger. It was glassy and glazed looking. "Hey... hey!" Then she noticed the foam coming out of Christie's mouth. "What the hell... she's frothing.. I have no idea what to do... don't panic. I have to get her friends!" Lili came flying down the stairs. "Julia! Julia, I need some help upstairs!" "And what do you need my help with exactly" Julia said pointedly. Lili ignored the barb. "Christie's unconscious upstairs and I can't wake her. I heard a thud outside my door just now, and I found her on the floor. Help!" Julia took off up the stairs after Lili. "I found her like this! I can't wake her up. I don't have any idea how to help her." "You stay here with her, I'll get the medics." Julia ran off back downstairs, and re-emerged a minute later with the on-hand medical team. They wiped up the frothy puddle and put Christie on a stretcher gently, and took her down to their medical ward. "Thanks for saying something, Lili. I appreciate that a lot, and I am sure she does as well. You may very well have saved her life. Damn it to hell, I knew something was wrong. I should never have let her tell me there wasn't!" Lili swelled a little with pride, feeling good about the good deed she had done. Maybe I should be like this more often, she thought. "Hey, I'm glad to help. I mean that, too. And I hope she's going to be okay." "Well, thanks to you, she might very well be. Thank you, Lili." Julia offered a handshake. Lili was slightly taken aback, but she accepted it, beaming inside. I'm going to be a better person from now on, she thought. __________ "I'm sorry, Christie's undergoing surgery right now, you can't see her just now." The nurse broke the news to Julia. "Surgery?? What's going on? Is she going to be alright?" "Well, it's a bit of a misnomer. It's technically a surgical procedure, but she's getting her stomach pumped. She had an awful lot of Strychzodine (I made that up) in her system. We're just de-toxing her." Julia looked thoughtful. "Is... is that the painkiller she was prescribed for her injuries in her fight a week and a half ago?" The nurse flipped through some records. "Yeah, that's the one." "She must have been developing an addiction... my God, she could have been dead, and all because I was stupid enough to believe her when she said she was alright." She walked back into the waiting room. Xiaoyu immediately consoled her. "Julia, it's not your fault and you know it. Stop beating yourself up. She got addicted to them. I'm not blaming her, but I'm blaming "not you". Okay? The important thing is that she's being looked after now." Julia still felt awful, but managed a smile. "Thanks. I need some pick-me-up right now." Asuka Kazama spoke in that calming way she had. "Addiction can be a powerful thing. Fortunately, we managed to nip it before it got out of control. I can't freakin' believe I am going to say this, but Lili did an amazing thing, she may very well have helped save Christie's life. Who knows what else could have happened if all that medication had run rampant in her system?" They waited for an hour. Finally the nurse came back out. "Julia? You guys can come see her now, but she's really weak. Only for a few minutes." They went in to visit her. Christie looked ashamed of herself. "I'm so sorry, guys. I've let you all down, and that just kills me." Christie shed a tear. "I just... I.. I don't know what happened. It got out of control. I was in so much pain it was blinding, and I.. I had the means to take it away. So I... I used it. And it almost cost me my life in the end." She couldn't look at her friends. "Look, you're not the only one to ever get addicted to anything. We understand. Hey, look at me." Christie brought herself to meet Julia's gaze. "I know exactly what it can do to someone. It's not shameful to have it happen to you. We're just glad we caught it... before it caught you." "I don't have any memory of that day, at all. It's like a stupor." Christie smiled. "Thanks, guys. You're the best friends I could have. Thanks for helping me." "Oh don't thank us, we didn't initially find you sprawled out on the floor." Christie looked confused. "Then who did? What exactly happened?" Julia recanted the day's activities to Christie. "And then Lili came running down the stairs, told me you were upstairs, and I told her to stay with you in case you woke up and I got the medics. And here we are. It's 11 PM right now, same day. And you're going to be fine." Christie had a look of shock on her face, "Lili? Lili helped me? ... wow. I'm totally blown away." "I noticed she seemed a little proud to help too. Maybe she's not SO bad after all..." Christie yawned. Julia said "Well, we should go. We were only given a few minutes, you're clearly tired. We'll let you get some rest. And this time, you'll actually get real sleep. We'll check on you in the morning." "Thanks, guys. Tell Lili I want to see her too." Christie settled in for her first real sleep in almost two weeks. ____________ In the morning, they all paid Christie a visit. "I don't know," said Julia. "She said she wanted to see you." Lili gingerly knocked. "Come in" said Christie. Lili tentatively stepped through the door. "Hi... um, how are you doing? You weren't doing so hot when I.." she trailed off. "When you found me sprawled out on the floor frothing like a rabid animal?" Christie smiled. "I wanted to thank you for helping me. I'm nearly certain if it weren't for you, I'd have been dead. You saved my life." Lili blushed a little. "Well, I mean, I... I saw you there, and I... I don't know... I just felt like I couldn't leave you there, but I didn't know what to do... I went and got Julia, and she pretty much took charge of the whole thing." "How long was I there?" Christie asked. "Only a few minutes. I heard a thud, which turned out to be you falling on the floor. I went and saw what it was, and then I went and got Julia. So it wasn't long at all." "Well if you hadn't been there, who knows how long it would have been until someone found me? Like I said, I could have died, but because of you and your quick thinking, I didn't. I owe you big time." Lili looked at her. "Actually, you don't, you've in fact done something great for me. When I went and got Julia, and she got help, she credited me with helping you. And I... I realized it made me feel good to help someone. And I've resolved to be better. You sort of helped me to see the kind of person I should be, rather than the kind I am... no, was. I consider that debt repaid." Lili extended a handshake to Christie, who took it. "I'm glad you feel better." ________ Christie was discharged from the OR at noon. She slowly got out of bed, wincing. She was still bruised up, but it looked a little better. "I may be in a lot of pain, but I'm me again. Now, how about some lunch? I'm starving." Julia smiled. "Let's go, friend." They got to the mess hall. Julia remarked to her "Okay, you're not going to fall on me again, are you?" Christie gave her a playful punch in the shoulder. "You smartass. I just might if you really ask for it." A look of wonder crossed Christie's face, then she suddenly put her tray down and darted out to the general kitchen. Julia watched her, then decided to follow. "Something must be up" she thought. She caught up to Christie, who had just opened her pill bottle. Before Julia could call out to her, Christie emptied the remainder into the sink and flushed them down the drain with water. Julia was relieved. Christie had no idea she was there and began talking to herself. "There. That's the end of that. I would rather be in pain and be in control of my mind, than strung out on these hellish things. They won't do that to me again." She turned to leave and saw Julia. "Oh.. uh.. I was just... I was..." "You were doing the right thing." Julia offered. "I guess it kind of looked bad, didn't it?" Christie asked. "Yeah, I admit, I took off after you cause I needed to be sure. I saw you with the opened bottle and I was just about to flip my shit but then you washed them down the sink. I'm proud of you. Now come on, let's get something to eat."