Title: Near Total Collapse
Tahirah - October 9, 2011 07:55 AM (GMT)
Melissa was handling the doctors. Melissa knew what to do. Deb didn't.
Deborah had gone to Nick's apartment to pick up her medicine, some clothes, and she didn't know maybe her purse? Mostly she'd had to see for herself what had happened. She got there, though, and…
...was this what it was all for? Had she been given a life and a family and a child just to lose her like this? It didn't make sense. It just didn't. It was beyond the usual inscrutability of her lady's methods; this just plain made no sense. Veronica was just so damned unlikely that she had to be here for something. Deborah had kept her safe and kept her hidden because she knew her duty and she loved her little girl. Had it been for this?
I swear if you take her from me… Deb thought. She couldn't finish it. She didn't even know what she could possibly threaten to do. It was… just… all she'd asked for in what she felt sure was the finishing stretch of her tenure on this earth was that she not outlive her wife or her baby. That was it. Was that so much? After everything she'd done for this, after everything she'd gone through, was this how she was going to be repaid for keeping the faith?
Deborah looked down at the mess in the bathroom, spread from the floor and up the walls and into the shower, and she knew.
They were reaching the end of it. This was what it looked like. Things were falling into place, and she just had to hope that she'd been allowed to call this child her own because she was supposed to take care of her at all costs, because if it weren't her job here then Deborah wasn't the one who'd made a planning error.
At the hospital, though, Melissa was handling the doctors because Melissa knew what to do. Deb had thought she'd be ready for this, but there was no preparing for this kind of fear and horror crawling through her thoughts, polluting every consideration with incessant reminders that her baby girl, the little girl she had promised to keep safe, had almost died. Again.
She had no idea how Melissa kept functioning. In all likelihood she'd crash later, but right now there were too many useless and helpless people sitting struck stupid in the waiting room for Melissa to bring back a report that made any sense. They were rehydrating her and starting her on broad-spectrum antibiotics because she'd… jesus christ.
How long had she been lying there alone?
There was some dumb animal comfort in sitting next to Rick, who seemed as entirely numb and lost as she did. They couldn't help each other and there sure as hell wasn't anything more either of them could do for Veronica right now, but they could sit here dwelling on their dread alone together and at least know they weren't alone.
I swear if you take her from me.
Rick Starr - October 11, 2011 05:38 AM (GMT)
He had been put in charge of contacting Nicki's friends to make sure they were aware of the… tragedy? No, tragedy didn't seem like the right word. Tragedy meant he was accepting that there was going be some turn for the worse and somebody was going to die.
Accident? Rick went with accident. Telling a people that there had been an accident didn't sound inflammatory it was distanced and clinical He liked distant because right now Rick was suppressing his emotions right now like some kind of fucking fabled bottled city
Rick to Boreas, Luke, and Sable: There was an accident. Veronica is in the hospital.
Four words was all it took to communicate the entire situation to her friends. The other stuff that Rick had seen were on a completely need to know basis and they didn't need to know that. All they needed to know is she was hurt and was in the hospital because that is all he really knew himself. Well he knew that there was bee wings but that was a thing and they didn't have the same entomological experience that Rick had.
It was all a messed up power scheme, that was it. Most people worked this kind of thing out when they first discovered they were a powered entity but that only made sense if you liked your powers. Why would people like Nick ever try to work as being more poison? So something just crossed a wire and she pushed herself harder then she had in the past. Yeah, that made sense, it was so clinical. Clinical was great.
The greatness of being clinical didn't stop that little satanic question. What if? Maybe she was trying to hurt herself. She had seemed really happy and they were together but what if? It was easy to smile at a camera. How much harder would it be to smile at Rick Starr? What if?
It was a good thing Rick was being clinical or else Deb might think that a grown man was crying. Deb was older than Rick though and would know that all men had their lacrymal ducts soldered upon reaching manhood therefore he wasn't possibly crying. It was just condensation from atmospheric moisture and the coolness of the hospital. Her daughter's boyfriend was just being so clinical and collected that water was condensing on him.
Luke O'Houlihan - October 11, 2011 05:50 AM (GMT)
Luke was laughing.
One of the supers had told a really good joke, one involving a duck, the Pope, and the world's worst police sketch artist. The bar was hopping, the drinks were flowing, and the coffers were flush with cash. Things were good.
That's when the text came.
Luke, trying to be polite, stepped into the back for a moment to check it. As soon as he reemerged, he was wearing his coat. The other tender, already a bit overwhelmed with the clientele, asked him where he was going.
All he responded with was, "Away."
As soon as he was in his car, a text was sent in response.
Moisture Farmer To Pest Problem: which one. capecare? i'll be there right away.
Luke then backed out, and pulled up to the exit of O'Houlihan's parking lot. Answer, Rick. ... dammit, ANSWER!
Tahirah - October 11, 2011 05:50 AM (GMT)
Deb was paying little attention to the odd tricks of the water cycle attempting to convince her that her daughter's boyfriend was having some kind of emotional response. He was a good enough kid but he wasn't what she was here for.
Deborah Temin had seen a lot of fucked up shit in her day. It would be fair to say that of the fucked up shit she actually remembered, her very own self was at the top of the list. How many people had ever emerged from their own decomposing corpse?
She was not sure she could handle this. She'd been an idiot to let herself think that things would get better just because they were coming to the home stretch, just because hopefully she'd never see herself like that again.
Thank you for Melissa, she thought. I can't do this.
For her part, Melissa was still off filling out paperwork, answering questions, and trying to learn what could possibly have happened.
She should have asked her wife.
Rick Starr - October 11, 2011 12:18 PM (GMT)
His phone buzzed angrily at him kind of like a hornet.
He shouldn't have compared it to a hornet now he was thinking about the wings again. Wings delicate and shredded on the tile floor. Too heavy with blood to ever fly just flap like loose, wet tissues struggling with the extra weight against the rigid veining.
Spontaneous muscular genesis, she must have been terrified. Did she tear at them when they first emerged? Finger nails right through the integument and out the other side. New muscles in pain panicked with their owner's practiced fear mechanism.
Rick to Luke: Capecare.
That wasn't real question because Rick being clinical as he was knew that Luke wasn't an idiot. Clinical. Cold as iron in the arctic sea. You didn't put poison women in regular hospitals. It didn't matter how much you thought of them as beautiful, funny, vibrant. At the end of the day she was still just a biohazard to the rest of them.
Sable - October 11, 2011 03:44 PM (GMT)
Valeria was at her civilian job writing lab notes when her phone buzzed. As soon as she saw the message, she dropped everything and started running.
Sable changed into her costume (it was always near her, just in case) in the bathroom, stashed her civilian clothes behind a ceiling tile, and climbed out the window and down the wall before anyone was the wiser. The guys she worked with were used to her odd hours and frequent disappearances. You were allowed to be eccentric when you were brilliant, and being beautiful probably didn't hurt either.
She took a taxi to CAPEcare, because what other hospital would they take Nick to, berating herself the whole way. If she hadn't been so focused on her own problems--if she had forced Boreas to take her with him--if she had found out where Nick lived and gone by on her own--maybe this wouldn't have happened.
I will forget about Hackley and about maybe getting to be happy and about everything else, she promised in her mind. Just let Nick be all right...and don't let it be my fault.
Was she praying? She didn't know who she could be praying to. She'd met her maker.
Boreas - October 11, 2011 03:58 PM (GMT)
"Thanks, Officers," Boreas was saying to the squad of nine taser-wielding cops to whom he'd just transferred custody of a huge and super-strong mugger who'd remained at large by shattering the ribs of any police officer who'd gotten in his way. The guy had taken fully five rubber arrows to the forehead before Boreas had decided the best thing to do was to reenact the scene from The Princess Bride where Wesley knocks out Fezzik, including delivering the "dream of large women" line.
However, this day would not be one he would remember as the day he delivered the "dream of large women" line at the perfect time.
This would be the day he would remember as the day Nick Temin was in the hospital and he could have prevented it.
After he read Rick's text, he left the officers and took to the air, flying towards CAPE-Care (what other hospital was equipped to handle Nick's blood?). He called Rick on the way.
Luke O'Houlihan - October 11, 2011 04:07 PM (GMT)
Luke almost grinned, as he drove as fast as he could to the hospital. In many situations, people like him would be driving, with equal zeal, in the other direction. They'd run in fear of a creature like Nick, especially damaged, and never look back. PEs might stand in its wake, fine, but regular old humans? Quake in fear, put your tail between your legs, and back away slowly until you could run away quickly.
None of that mattered a bit to Luke. He guessed he was dumb after all.
He parked as close as he could to the entrance, and headed as quickly to the counter to speak to the nurse.
"Nick Temin." He knew that would be enough.
Tahirah - October 12, 2011 05:51 AM (GMT)
This was such a fucking nightmare. Had Rick seen them?
She was going to have to talk to Rick. Fantastic. That was going to be a fun conversation. Maybe if he were sufficiently terrified of Deborah he'd just take her word and do as he was told and not ask lots of questions, but then again... if he really cared about her daughter, he wouldn't be content with that. This was terribly fucking moving and all, but she just wasn't sure she wanted to deal with it.
"Mrs. Temin?" she heard from the door. Deborah straightened, taking her weight up off of her elbows. "Can you come with me, please?"
Was this what death row felt like?
Boreas - October 12, 2011 06:08 AM (GMT)
"Dammit, Rick," Boreas said, hanging up. It had gone to voicemail. He needed information, and...well, Rick not picking up the phone was a bad sign as far as Cameron was concerned.
Boreas (555-423-8808) to Ricksville: Answer your phone. I'm on my way to CAPECare, text me if I'm going the wrong way.
Nick was in the hospital. In, as in admitted. Not is being rushed to. Okay. He was flying that direction anyway, so all he had to do was concentrate and inform the air around him that there was a spot of very low pressure in front of him, and nature, abhorring a vacuum as it always did, needed to pull Boreas into that spot. That that spot kept moving so it was always pulling the Wind-Wielder and he was hurtling towards the hospital at seventy miles an hour because of it was immaterial to the air. Vacuum bad. Simple rule.
Luke O'Houlihan - October 12, 2011 06:39 AM (GMT)
Luke was stewing as he headed for the waiting room.
"She was admitted a couple of hours ago." "Are you a family member?" "I'm sorry, you'll have to wait over there." "We'll let you know when we hear something." All the comments taunted him. Sure, he was here for her, good for him. But could she know? Could anyone? It was one thing Luke was at odds with...
Moisture Farmer to Pest Problem: im here. where are you? they wont let me in.
God, a day when Rick had the inside track. Things must have been really wrong.
Sable - October 12, 2011 05:53 PM (GMT)
Sable got the same treatment that Luke had from the hospital staff. Soon, she was in the waiting room as well.
Wonderful. It's the bartender, she thought when she recognized him. I will never escape from him.
But presumably, he was here for Nick. She was going to have to deal with his presence and act like an adult.
She went over and sat near him, but not next to him.
"Are you here for Nick, too? Do you know what's going on?" she asked.
Luke O'Houlihan - October 12, 2011 06:40 PM (GMT)
It figured that Sable was there. He'd be shocked if a candlelight vigil didn't spark up soon. Nick was a dear, and he didn't know how, but she sparked deep feelings of... something good in people. Sympathy. That might be it.
"Yeah, I don't know what's going on either," he admitted. "I'm actually texting Rick right now to see what's going on. Any ideas, even?"
Sable - October 12, 2011 06:46 PM (GMT)
"I don't know," Sable told him. "I just hope it wasn't..."
Traumatic event followed by withdrawing from friends, not leaving the house, not talking to anyone, and then suddenly being in the hospital...
"...I hope it wasn't self-inflicted," she finished. She wasn't going to say the s-word.
And if that is what it was, she added silently, I just hope she failed.
Rick Starr - October 12, 2011 07:09 PM (GMT)
Oh another text message. Where was he? Rick was obviously in the waiting room like every other poor schmuck hoping their loved ones were alright. Turns out during an emergency they didn't want to hovering around outside. It was't like one of those medical tv shows at all.
Pocketing his cellphone he looked up to notice there were two of them in the waiting room now. They apparently reproduced very fast. Rick stood and shuffled over to them like a deadman walking. They weren't seated as close to the incoming patient door as his base camp but it would have to do for now. They probably wanted to know what was going on. He would tell them what they were cleared to actually hear.
Maybe talking would make him feel better?
Luke O'Houlihan - October 12, 2011 07:31 PM (GMT)
"No," he said immediately. "No way. Not Nicki. She's too smart for that. Doesn't matter how down in the dumps she is, she'd NEVER do that."
Luke's jaw was trembling with rage, incensed she'd even suggest it. It was Nicki. She... she was doing better, right? She was getting through it. She...
He realized he was trying to convince himself of her invincibility, and like a gentle wave washing away a word written in sand, he knew the futility of that argument.
"I..." he started. "I... ... goddamnit... Oh."
"What have you heard?"
Rick Starr - October 12, 2011 10:11 PM (GMT)
She likes the smell of carnations and she always wants to eat those edible orchids. There is this place on the her right below where her shirt ends and it feels amazing if you touch there and if you even dare fucking say you understand what I'm going through then I will burn down your bar and piss in its ashes.
Rick didn't say that. Luke wasn't asking about that so he didn't need to hear that.
"They're trying to rehydrate her right now but she is unconscious so…" so they would need to do it through the veins and that meant there would be blood. Blood that would kill any of them but wouldn't kill him but that didn't mean Rick was any fucking use in this situation.
"I don't know how long she had been in there… just stopped seeing me a couple days ago." There was that word he used. Days not weeks.
Sable - October 13, 2011 01:49 AM (GMT)
"Do you know what happened?" Sable asked.
She wasn't going to be able to think about anything else until she knew that.
Rick Starr - October 13, 2011 02:22 AM (GMT)
"No…" He just shrugged uselessly. "No I just… she was just there on the ground when I got there. Christ, she didn't have her watch on. I don't know why she was doing something like that."
He was being clinical. Rick was an unbiased reporter that only spoke the facts without a shred of emotion. Insectoid Man refused to cry in front of acquaintances, he just would not do something like that.
Boreas - October 13, 2011 02:39 AM (GMT)
Boreas the Wind-Wielder strode purposefully into the hospital, cape billowing out behind him, and asked to be directed to Veronica Temin's room. Instead, he was directed to where he should wait because even he, hero that he was, would not be permitted to pose dramatically next to the doctors while they worked.
When he got there, of course, he saw Sable and Luke, neither of whom he'd seen since the conversation he had with Nick, and freaked out. WHY ARE THEY HERE? ARE THEY HERE TO CONFRONT ME? ARE THEY BLAMING ME FOR THIS? OH GOD IT'S ALL MY FAULT. OH GOD. OH GOD.
But they all saw him. He did not have time to turn into mist before they could see.
So he walked over. "Rick! What happened? Is she okay?"
Please don't let this be my fault. I didn't mean to hurt her. Oh god.
Rick Starr - October 13, 2011 02:52 AM (GMT)
He hated them all. He hated them all because they were all fine and she might die. What right did they have to be that fucking healthy when he might lose her in an instant? There was nothing fair about that at all.
"I don't fucking know, okay?! I found my fucking girlfriend on the bathroom floor and this asshole from the future is stalking me and I don't know fucking shit! FUCK!"
Everything was awful.
Boreas - October 13, 2011 03:24 AM (GMT)
"The same guy from the future?" Boreas asked. "The guy from the night before Black Thursday? He's stalking you?"
Luke O'Houlihan - October 13, 2011 04:43 AM (GMT)
"... wait," Luke said, pressing his eyes closed. "What's this about the future? Did Rom go off his meds? We have time travel now? ... and what does this have to do with Nick?"
Usually Luke was pretty good at accepting new facts. Time travel? That one threw him.
Rick Starr - October 13, 2011 06:24 AM (GMT)
"Okay forget about him. Forget that I fucking mentioned the future guy and focus on Nicki. He doesn't fucking matter."
Did he matter? Well he might matter because he always seemed somewhere right before something terrible happened. On the other hand he couldn't have taken off her watch because that was something that only Nicki could do. Sure, he could have threatened her but all of that would have been alert and not to mention all the blood.
Sable - October 13, 2011 06:29 AM (GMT)
There were a millions things Sable could have asked. There was something about time travel, and something about Hackley, and still no one knew what was happening to Nick. But there was only one thing that really mattered.
"How do we get in to see her?"
Tahirah - October 13, 2011 06:51 AM (GMT)
What Deborah had just been told shouldn't be possible. It shouldn't even approach possibility; it wasn't even plausible. If Veronica didn't take her meds, she would die and it would be her own poison that killed her. They knew this. They knew. Before they'd gotten her medication regimen right she'd had seizures and she--
But they hadn't ever tested it. How could they? She was their child.
Had Nick? Of course she had. But it had been accidental, right?
Obviously. That was stupid. Nick had taken her meds religiously for decades on her own, because she understood that it was the only way for her to have a normal life... or any life at all. She took them because it was a pain in the ass but it was the rational thing to do.
And that was Nick to the letter. She got that from her mother. Not her birth mother, her real mother, from Melissa.
There had to be an explanation. Something else had probably happened, and she'd just been there so long that her blood levels had gone down. That was definitely it.
They should not have been able to drop to nothing after only a few days because it just didn't clear that fast, but--
But that was definitely it. Now she just had to figure out what happened.
Deb strode purposefully from the hall where Melissa still waited with the doctor who'd been available when they came in. She'd been expecting Rick, good reliable Rick who broke in when Melissa said, who had emerged from insanity to give her her daughter back three times, and who knew when the hell to just shut the fuck up. Without a word to him she pointed at him, snapped her fingers, and then turned her palm upward to call him over to her.
She added, though, "Hell are you?" Deb knew Boreas by reputation, but there were still three strangers in the waiting room and if they didn't know something they needed to get the hell out and let the grown-ups do their jobs.
Boreas - October 13, 2011 06:58 AM (GMT)
"I'm Boreas the Wind-Wielder, ma'am." He gave his best hero-smile, not knowing or caring who the woman in front of him was. This was because he had no idea one of Nick's parents was black.
Tahirah - October 13, 2011 07:04 AM (GMT)
Deb answered back as quickly and sharply as the lash of a whip. She had no time for flustered flashy egomaniac children.
"That's nice. Do you know anything?"
Boreas should give the correct answer.
Hopefully he would know what it was. Hopefully there was one at all.
Boreas - October 13, 2011 07:05 AM (GMT)
"Only that I'm going to stay out of your way."
Tahirah - October 13, 2011 07:09 AM (GMT)
"Good," she ruled, somehow infusing the word with absolutely zero approval or appreciation because damn it all she did not owe him shit right now.
"You can ask Rick how much I will appreciate you dicking around."
They didn't need to ask Rick. This much was probably obvious.
"Anybody with useful information, spit it out or sit down."
Boreas - October 13, 2011 07:11 AM (GMT)
Oh. Oh, this was Deb Temin, the scary quiet mom who will eat you. He'd heard of her.
Boreas went and sat down and was silent.
Luke O'Houlihan - October 13, 2011 01:08 PM (GMT)
In his seat, with his head pointed down, Luke grinned. Nick's mother.
She was, in this moment, the best person on the planet. Nick was sure to be just fine. Even if everyone in this room disappeared, this woman would fight enough to equal every single one of them. This woman could save Nick on willpower alone.
Things might just be okay.
Sable - October 13, 2011 08:25 PM (GMT)
Sable didn't know anything, so she stayed seated and quiet. This woman seemed like she could get things done without help. Sable just needed to try not to get left behind.
Rick Starr - October 13, 2011 09:01 PM (GMT)
Rick was aware of his role in all of this. He would obediently answer Deb's questions because he understood unlike these other three. There were some things in the world that could not be reasoned with at all. Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and Deb Temin.
"What's up? Is everything alright with Nicki?"
Tahirah - October 13, 2011 09:23 PM (GMT)
Excellent. This was better. Absolutely everybody had been terrified into submission and they were going to sit down and leave these matters to people who could do anything. Today they were the civilians, so they could just shut the hell up until she needed them.
Deborah took a deep breath and folded her arms, flicking a skeptical glance at the others before directly addressing Rick because his question was sensible--which basically meant that it led toward the thing she'd wanted to discuss in the first place.
"Little better. Got her blood work back. There's only one mystery here--" That's right, only one. "--and that's how her blood level of her medication bottomed out in the days she was out. It doesn't take days," Deb clarified. "Takes weeks."
Rick Starr - October 13, 2011 09:47 PM (GMT)
"How? I mean she always took her medication when I was there with her…"
And when you weren't there? All those doses that you weren't messing around in her apartment? What then? Are you sure she was taking those?
"She said that she was…" Rick's hands balled into fists and he closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to look at Deborah Temin. She had been killing herself in front of him the entire time and he hadn't even seen it. "Adjusting her medication. She was fucking killing herself. Damn it, god fucking damn it…"
Boreas - October 14, 2011 02:49 AM (GMT)
Boreas gasped. Adjusting her medicine. The shakes. Jesus. I told her she looked off. She said it wasn't my business that she was killing herself.
But that meant it wasn't his fault, ultimately. He'd merely been in the right place at the right time to save the day and he'd failed because there was no part of saving that day that could be shot with an arrow.
Sable - October 14, 2011 03:03 AM (GMT)
Sable had guessed. As soon as she heard that Nick was in the hospital, she had guessed.
But she hadn't guessed earlier. She hadn't guessed until it was too late. She hadn't been able to stop her, because she was too busy worrying about herself.
Never again. She wouldn't ever get distracted by her own stupid, selfish needs again. That was how she'd gotten to where she was--by ignoring them completely. And now, her only real friend (or at least, her only friend who would remember her from week to week) might die, because she had forgotten that she wasn't allowed to have things that she wanted.
She sat, and waited for someone to tell her how to help.
Luke O'Houlihan - October 14, 2011 03:15 AM (GMT)
Luke's face burned white-hot. It felt so selfish, but the first words in his mind were how dare you, as if her life belonged to others. But it was the honesty of his feelings. It felt like a slap in the face.
How dare you.
How dare you.
The bartender ungripped one of his clenched fists from the seat beneath him to wipe at his face. "So when can we see her?"
Tahirah - October 14, 2011 03:29 AM (GMT)
"When I say," Deb snapped, too fucking stunned by this information to relinquish authority now. She was keeping things fucking orderly and anyway by the gods it made her feel better. Melissa was handling the doctors, which meant that these children were her job. She could do this. She could handle children.
As long as none of them tried to end their own lives.
Deb didn't know what to do about that. Apparently.
It took a lot for a woman of Deb's complexion to appear pale, but she was managing it. This didn't make sense. Nick had always taken them. Always. She was good about it. They'd trusted her unsupervised with her own meds since she was twelve. Nick knew why they were important. She knew she needed them, that everything she'd ever accomplished and ever would was because of the pills she took four times a goddamn day.
It just didn't make sense. Deborah was not used to Veronica failing to make sense. This was her child, and she was a rational woman and a goddamned scientist for shit's sake and she knew better.
"How long was she off her meds? They said she was on her floor for at least two days, possibly more. They can tell by the..." Deb gestured in the general direction of her own left shoulder and side, but really wasn't in the mood to get explicit. "Failing to take her meds should have killed her long before Rick got there. So tell me more. Who spoke to her last? Rick? Was that you?"