It was approaching two full weeks since Sour Sweet had to be committed. Sour was in the common room, leaning back in a comfy chair as she watched a nature documentary playing on the TV. Her mind felt so clear now. Clear and relieved. Doctor Dia Gnostic had told her that all she needed to do was pass a final evaluation and she would be permitted to leave. It was scheduled for tomorrow.
Part of her was sad to go. She grew to like the place and some of her fellow patients. Especially Floor Bored. The two of them shared a lot of time together, their daily conversations becoming longer and longer as Floor opened up. Sour liked the younger girl, despite how bad she smelled and not to the mention that she preferred to read Anon's novels over Second's.
Floor had even seemed to take Sour's advice on writing herself. In the common room, there were a few computers along with a printer. Internet browsing was heavily monitored, of course, but it still offered some recreation. Sour had spotted Floor sitting and typing in Google Docs from time to time. Right then, she could hear the copier running. Perhaps Floor had finished something.
Sour hoped Floor would continue to get better with her gone. Still, there would be certain other patients she wouldn't miss at all.
"Let go of me!"
Sour rolled her eyes. Speak of the edgelord...
A couple of staffers pulled Tempest Shadow into the common room, sitting her down on the couch opposite of Sour. Tempest had been attempting frequent escape attempts, so many in fact that it was decided that she needed two staffers at her side at all times. Regardless, she still made runs for it.
"Now, please settle down," one of the staffers urged. "Breath and relax. Enjoy some TV."
"Tried to jump the fence again, eh, Tempest?" Sour asked with a small smirk.
Tempest glared at her and growled, "Shut. It."
"You know, not being such a grumpy face would go a long way," Sour pressed. "I would think someone with one hand should know how to be content with what they got. How the heck did you even lose that one anyway?"
Tempest scowled as she crossed her arms to conceal her stump. "Let's just say I got too good at cutting my wrist."
Sour gave her a long, dubious stare before deadpanning, "Really? That's the best edge you could come up with? My old feminist blog received threats of rape that were more clever than that."
Tempest began to roll her eyes. Suddenly, as the roll was about make its completion, her eyes caught themselves on the TV screen. A blood-curdling scream shot out of Tempest's mouth. Everyone in the common room jumped at the sudden noise.
"CHANGE IT! CHANGE IT! FUCKING CHANGE IT!" Tempest begged as her eyes shut tight.
Sour looked at the TV. The only thing that was showing was a grizzly bear sitting in a field. Sour didn't dwell on it as she obliged to Tempest's abrupt and desperate wish. She switched the channel. Tempest slowly opened her eyes to check if it was indeed changed. Satisfied and relieved, she tried to regain her composure. A tear running down her cheek was quickly wiped as her face scowled.
"What's going on?" Floor Bored asked as she walked up, holding a small stack of freshly printed paper.
"Nothing!" Tempest snapped before repeating more quietly, "Nothing."
Sour and Floor stared at the scarred woman, before mutually deciding to drop it. Their attention turned to each other.
"So, is that what I think it is?" Sour asked, pointing at the stack.
Floor nodded with a slight blush. "I was hoping that maybe Second could take a look at it? Maybe see if my writing's any good?"
Tempest shot up from the couch. "You're really going to trust a professional author to take a look at your story?" Her entire demeanor was as if she hadn't just been screaming bloody murder not a full minute ago. "How do you know he's not going to steal your work and pass it off as his own?"
Uncertainty filled Floor's face as she glanced over to Sour. "Y-your husband wouldn't do that, would he?"
"Of course not!" Sour said, glaring at Tempest.
"Perhaps you're right for once, Sour," Tempest said as she strolled over to Floor. "What value could anything from this one possibly have? Her writing likely stinks worse than her BO."
As if throwing insults wasn't enough for her, Tempest followed up by swatting her left hand at the stack of paper. Her story scattered below her, Floor's eyes began to water. An enraged Sour gripped her fists and stepped over toward Tempest before the staffers got in-between them.
"We'll take care of her," one of them assured Sour.
"Let's go to your room," the other said as he pushed Tempest out of the common room.
Tempest's eyes were locked with Sour's as she left. The two of them were the most difficult patients of the entire center. One would think the staff would figure out they didn't need to be in the same room together. Of course, that wouldn't be necessary for much longer, Sour was sure. She was about to be out of there. Free as a bird. Tempest could rot for all she cared.
Sour glanced over to the pitiful sight of Floor picking up the pages of her story, one by one. Sour bent down to help. She frowned as she noticed Floor had forgotten to number her pages.
"Floor, get your story back in order and I'll make sure Second gets it," Sour promised.
"Th-thanks..." Floor managed.
Frustrated, Sour shook her head. This psychiatric center had way too much in common with a high school. A building where everyone needed to gather, be taught, get monitored, and receive food. Unfortunately, it even had the bullies. Sour knew this all too well having came from Crystal Prep Academy. Sour was a bully as well back then. Heck, everyone was.
Floor collected all the pages within her hands and began the process of sorting them back in order. Sour watched with her temper rising once more. Tomorrow was going to be her last day. However, she didn't want to leave without putting Tempest in her place first. For that, perhaps it was time for the bully Sour Sweet to make a grand return.
Sour's attention shifted back to the TV. She picked up the remote and changed the channel back to the nature documentary. The grizzlies were catching salmon now. Sour then looked back at the common room's computer and printer.
An evil smirk came across Sour's face.
Tempest Shadow walked down the hall. She had a permanent scowl thanks to the two staffers glued to her sides. She hated company. It never worked out to have people around her. Something always went wrong. Mostly her temper.
Tempest grew to hate that word. Patience was the word that Doctor Gnostic used every time she was told that she couldn't leave just yet. This had been going on for about three years. Most patients didn't stay that long, but Tempest rarely ever followed the doctors' advice, which in turn caused to her fail her evaluations every time. Tempest didn't have patience. She couldn't take it anymore. She wanted out of there.
Then again, it wasn't like she actually had anywhere else to go to. Her family had abandoned her long ago. Or had she abandoned them? Tempest couldn't remember which anymore. She didn't really want to, anyway. As far as she was concerned, she didn't belong to that family. She stopped being the person born to them after that day...
"Go in already!"
"It's kinda dark in there..."
"What are you? A scaredy cat?"
"Of course not!"
"Well, go get the ball then."
"Okay, be right back..."
Tempest winced and shivered. She wanted her stupid brain to stop replaying it. It never went well for her to think back to that day. It wasn't good to come into contact with anything which reminded her of it, either. It made her feel like some "whiny liberal" stereotype. As much as she hated to admit it, she needed trigger warnings.
Her life had been completely stolen by PTSD.
Tempest stopped at the door of the women's restroom.
She lifted an eyebrow at the staffers. "You don't mind, do you?"
The two nodded and took some steps away, but not too far. Their diligent gaze lingered on Tempest until they made sure she entered instead of running again. The public restrooms were like any other, except that the mirrors were safety glass and that the stalls had both inside and outside locks. The outside locks were in the event that a patient had an episode within the stall. A staffers had keys to quickly open them and give aid.
Tempest headed for one of the stalls. She was about to push the door open, when suddenly somebody shot out of it. Tempest couldn't see who it was. All she could see was a bear with its teeth showing. Her eyes popped. Her purple face paled. Her body trembled. Her bladder released.
I just wanted to get the ball back...
A single second didn't even pass before Sour Sweet regretted what she had just done. All it took was one look at Tempest's face. Tempest staggered back from the printed picture. She fell to the floor. Her body began writhing as she screamed. Both her eyes and pants were soaking wet.
"STOP!!! HELP ME!!! GOD HELP ME!!! IT HURTS!!! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!!! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!!!!!"
As the restroom door swung open, Sour shot back into the stall out of sight. She hastily stuffed the picture into her pocket as she listened to the staffers try to calm Tempest down. She waited until she heard them pick her up and carry her out. Sour stepped out as she heard the door close and Tempest's screaming and sobbing fade.
Sour's own eyes teared up. "What have I done...?"
"We're here, sweetie."
"What's going on? Where are we?"
"We're at the hospital. Don't try to move too much."
"Where's the ball?"
"Where's the ball? I got to go get it. I thought I had it. I had it in my... wait. W-w-where's my hand...?"
"Listen, it's going to be okay."
"Where's my hand?"
"WHERE'S MY HAND!?!?!?"
Tempest's eyes opened. Another hospital ceiling. She lifted her right arm to see a stump. Still gone.
She raised up to see her left hand and feet wrapped in leathers. Her mind was still a little groggy from the Ativan. She glanced around the ER until she saw someone sitting in the chair next to her.
"Hey, Tempest," Sour greeted meekly.
"You're not supposed to be in the ER," Tempest muttered with a hint of irony.
Sour smiled. "Edgelords aren't the only sneaky ones, you know. Us two-faced bitches can get around, too."
Tempest smiled a bit. Sour wasn't sure if that was due to the drugs or not.
"Tempest, I'm sorry."
"I did this to you." Sour hesitated to swallow her shame before continuing, "I printed off a picture of, well, you-know-what and shoved it in your face..."
Tempest stared with an unreadable expression.
"There's no excuse, Tempest."
Tempest sighed and looked off. "I deserved it."
"The hell you did!" Sour suddenly snapped. "I used your condition against you! You didn't deserve that! Nobody deserves that!" Sour hugged herself. "I feel so disgusting. I'm so, so sorry, Tempest." Tears ran down Sour's cheeks as she shook her head. "I'm sorry for triggering you. I'm sorry for making fun of your hand. I'm sorry for being such a shit person."
Confusion filled Tempest. She wasn't used to people apologizing to her. She never felt that anyone ever cared about her feelings. The psychiatrists just listened to her for a paycheck, she always assumed. But Sour, as far as she knew, got nothing from caring about her.
"When I saw you on the floor, Tempest," Sour continued. "When I saw you screaming in terror, I saw myself. I've had hallucinations that made me cry for my life like that. When we first met, there was one thing you said to me that was completely true: 'Nobody truly knows the torture going on in our heads but us'. We shouldn't be hurting each other."
Tempest tried to search for something to say. This situation was new to her. Part of her wanted to tell Sour that it was alright, but the other part, her pride, wasn't about to waver. Tempest finally lied back down onto the bed, her head turned away from Sour. Sour took the gesture at face value and sighed.
"Sorry, again," Sour said as she got up from the chair.
Sour was about to walk out before she heard a small voice say, "I'm not going to tell the doctors, Sour."
Sour paused and, after a thoughtful moment, replied, "You won't need to, Tempest."
Sour Sweet was having flashbacks to Crystal Prep Academy yet again. Doctor Gnostic sat there in a silent, contemplative state as Sour wrung her hands. She had just confessed what she had done to Tempest Shadow. It was like a visit to the principal's office. Gnostic was no Cinch, but it was practically the same situation. Sour did wrong and was awaiting her punishment to be dealt.
Sour's throat cleared. "So, what I did is going to effect my final mental evaluation tomorrow, isn't it?"
"Oh, I definitely think it shall," Doctor Gnostic finally said, nodding.
Sour sighed. "Okay. I'll own up it."
"Trying to harm another patient is a significant step back, Sour Sweet. Of course..."
Sour perked up. "Of course...?"
Gnostic stroked her chin thoughtfully. "Of course, you did immediately regret it, sincerely apologized, voluntarily admitted what you had done, and are now willing to accept the consequences. Those seem to be significant steps forward in my professional opinion."
Gnostic rested her elbows on her desk and assumed what Sour would describe as the 'Gendo Pose'. "Sour, this is going to cause some debate among the doctors. Don't think the antagonism between you and the edgy one haven't been noted into both of your records. I can't promise anything."
Sour put on a brave face. "I didn't expect you could, doctor."
THE NEXT DAY...
Tempest Shadow hated the cafeteria food at Canterlot Psychiatric Center. She hated the staffers who worked there, especially the two who were flanking her at the table. She hated that one said staffer was currently munching a little too loudly on a bag of chips. Tempest groaned and covered her face with her left hand in frustration. She tried to think of something she didn't hate at the moment.
The sound of a chair scraping back in front of her made her snap out of her thoughts and glance up. Taking her seat was Sour Sweet.
"Sour?" Tempest said in surprise. "I figured you'd already be gone by now."
Sour shrugged. "Well, I would if my final evaluation went as well as I wanted it to. The doctors recommended that I stay for another week." Her eyes drifted downwards. "I was really hoping that I could hold my daughter today."
Tempest winced. "Sorry."
"Well, there is one way that they said I could get out earlier," Sour said with faint optimism.
Tempest raised an eyebrow. "What's that?"
Sour gave her a warm smile. "Maybe, perhaps, if the doctors see you and I getting along?" She looked at the staffers. "You guys could vouch for us, right?"
The staffers both smiled and gave a thumb's up. Tempest's head whipped side to side. Perhaps she didn't have to hate the staffers, after all.
"Let's start this over, shall we?" Sour leaned in and extended her left hand. "Nice to meet you, I'm Sour Sweet."
Tempest leaned in and extended her left hand. "I'm Tem –" She hesitated for a moment before giving a sheepish smile. "I'm Fizzlepop Berrytwist."
"It's nice to meet you, Fizzlepop."