Audible Alarm


brynn_icon.gif lance_icon.gif

Scene Title Audible Alarm
Synopsis When alarms go off metaphorically or physically, Lance tends to listen.
Date January 17, 2021

Fornier Hospital

She blacked out two days ago and she's lain very still since then, nothing but the machines in the hospital beeping and the sounds of a hospital. This is the second time she's woken today — the first time she'd gone from disoriented to completely and utterly panicked in very short order, unable to drag her hands off her ear and sobbing uncontrollably. They finally had to sedate her to get her to calm down, and even then she was reacting like something was wrong, struggling even through the sedation and the paralysis on her right side to try to hold her ear.

It wasn't until Lance reminded them that she was deaf and that trying to talk to her before she was lucid enough to sign wouldn't do them any good that one young resident tweaked onto an idea. He stuffed the ear canal that she kept holding tight with cotton and taped a bandage over it, even though there was no apparent injury. She finally seemed to ease and dropped into the blissful darkness again.

Waking up now, though, in the fishbowl of an ICU, she's disoriented. The smell of a hospital is unmistakable. Even as she pries her eyes open, Brynn is already starting to get agitated though the only sign of it is the spike in her heart rate on a monitor that is silenced. Her gray eyes seek out anything familiar and land on his face, naked relief making her wilt as she reaches out for him to get his attention.

Lance’s face is faintly illuminated by the bright colors of his phone, the dark shadows beneath his eyes more than obvious as he plays a game to distract himself and while away the hours as he waits for her to wake up.

He’s technically not supposed to be there anymore, it’s past visiting hours. They’ve thrown him out twice, and after the third time he’d gotten in the nurses just decided to stop reporting him being there.

As that hand reaches up, he looks up at the movement— and the phone drops down into his lap as he pulls the chair closer, reaching out briefly to clasp her hand. Since he can’t sign while he’s holding her hand, he’s careful to enunciate so she can read his lips, “Hey Brynn.”

She feels so strange. She knows she moved only because she sees her hand do it. But she can't feel his hand in hers. Brynn looks confused but offers him a slow, sleepy smile. Her head feels thick and fuzzy around the edges. It takes her a few minutes of just looking at him before she seems to really come all the way awake. Gray eyes flicker around the room, noting the machines, and when she turns back to her brother there is fear in her expression. She can't sign it with her hand held but the question of what happened is perfectly evident.

That hand squeezes hers gently, then releases it so Lance can sign for her. You had a stroke. Like the others, he says, his face full of worry, They say something happened to your ears, too? But it’s not getting worse. You’re going to be okay.

That’s less fact-related than hope. Than determination. He’s not going to let anything bad happen to his family, even if he has to will it into existence.

She knows her brother well — his face says as much as his signs do. She tries to reach up and sign in return but panic flickers across her features when she sees her hand come up but she can't feel what it's doing. She brings her left hand up to touch her hands together and it's the most awkward feeling she's ever had — she can see her hands touching and to her left hand, the right hand feels normal and fine. But she can feel nothing from the right hand at all.

Awkwardly with just her left hand, she tries to sign. Thank God for shorthand Cant. Can't feel hand. Or leg. Or whole side. Despite being silent, the heart monitor is registering well over 100 beats per minute.

As she looks at him, she flinches visibly and shakes her head in disbelief. Colors flashing. Too bright. And then they're gone again. What in the flipping world?

She drifts off that topic to one that seems to her right now far more important. You okay? she signs one-handed. Gray eyes clouded by the beginning of a headache are still intent on him — last thing she remembers was Lance talking to her. What happened had to have scared him out of his mind.

You had a stroke. Like the others. Lance’s hands shift to provide, They don’t know what the long-term effects are yet. It comes reluctantly, but he doesn’t want to lie to her. He looks miserable as he admits it, though.

Then he smiles a little, shaking his head. I’m fine. I’m not the one with the brain problem. See, you should’ve been dumb like me, then your brain would be too small to have issues. Retreating into humor as usual.

Her gaze on his face is maybe a little less alarmed, but only because Brynn doesn't want to make either one of them more agitated than they already are. If rolling eyes could be heard, there'd be a whole lot of clattering happening. Yeah, because you're so dumb, she scoffs.

Shifting a little in the bed, her movements are jerky as she tries to figure out if her right side is actually functioning despite the lack of sensation. She can see her toes moving and obviously her hand moves. Her signs are sloppy and not quite right, perhaps in part to whatever might be in her IV too. Want to go home. Not surprising — she's never liked hospitals. Too many strangers, too much happening just out of sight, too much to keep track of for her own comfort.

She bites her lip and then asks, You won't go anywhere? As much as she hates to allow her siblings to see the insecurity, Brynn absolutely does not want to be alone here.

Totally dumb. Lance smiles a bit, trying to hide his concern as she checks her body parts and how well they’re working. He watches, the jerky movements each pulling on his emotions, but he’s trying not to break down at all for her sake.

Then she signs those last things, and he shakes his head, reaching out to clasp her hand warmly again. “No,” he says, careful to move his lips, “I’m not going anywhere.”

The relief in her expression is vast, but Brynn also looks a little startled. More than a little. She lifts her left hand awkwardly and fumbles with her right ear. The one that gushed bloody-looking fluid and that now has cotton in it. Her brows furrow together.

The cotton comes out and she drops it in her lap to sign awkwardly, What happened to my ear? She can't quite believe what her eyes are telling her — that she heard something when he answered her.

At the question, Lance grimaces. I don’t know. You were bleeding stuff out of it when you fell over.# He waves a hand at it a little, BA55D3|They don’t know why yet.## And of course, they don’t know she can hear just yet, since she hasn’t been awake until now.

He looks concerned as she reaches for her ear, signing back, Does it hurt? Should I call a doctor?

With the cotton out, she can now hear sounds outside in the hall. People moving around, a call over the PA system. But Brynn is still in a kind of disbelieving fog. She is also still struggling with her signs, even with the Cant's shorthand version. The incomplete motions might be a little harder to read, but she's focusing very intently on trying to make them correctly. Talk to me … out loud?

Lance’s brow furrows as he looks down at her hands, then back up to her face. He read that wrong, right? She can’t mean…?

“Uh, hello, why are you asking me to talk out loud?” Watching her face, her expression, worry clear in his own.

Her gray eyes go wide, shock written across her features. Brynn's watching his mouth say words. The sounds themselves mean nothing to her, not really, except that she reads what he asks her. There is a mixture of fear and awe, and she raises her hands to sign stiltedly, I wanted to hear your voice before it goes away. In case she's dreaming. In case she stroked out and this isn't real. She looks shaken. The room, for all that they are the only ones in it, is alive with low sounds. To her, it is a dizzying, unidentifiable cacophony. Lance's voice, low and smooth, has a cadence to it that doesn't grate on her.

The PA in the hall makes a 'bing' sound, not overly loud but enough to alert nurses and staff to listen, and Brynn winces at it, her hand flying up to cover … only one ear. The same one that had the cotton in it. Her eyes dart toward the door and she looks like she might jump out of the bed — surely that sound is an indicator of … something. Emergency? Danger? What??

As she signs those words, Lance’s eyes widen in shock and realization at her meaning. “You can— “ He fumbles a moment, then signs, You can hear?. Then she’s startled, and he hesitates before glancing to the hall, then back to her.

It’s okay. It’s just a speaker. I’m going to call the nurses to let them know about this, okay? He looks at her face concernedly, even as he reaches over for the call button.

Her gray eyes are intent on his signs when he explains it's just a speaker. She calms some and bites her lip, nodding slowly. There's so much. Her signing, awkward as it is with her left hand and slightly unfinished movements, is still readable but she's squeezing her eyes closed. Hurts my head. Well, maybe it's the brilliant flashing colors that happened at the same time. She can't tell.

Though the hospital is actually relatively quiet with her door shut, for a young woman who has never in her life actually heard a sound, it's overwhelming. Her heart rate is up, though the machine is mercifully still silent. It's okay… She's not really giving him permission, but then again he's not really asking for it.

The nurse's voice comes through the speaker on the mechanism. "What can we help you with?"

“Hey, uh— “ Lance clears his throat, reaching out with his other hand to lay over Brynn’s as he speaks - giving it a gentle, reassuring squeeze. “This is Brynn Ferguson’s room. She’s woken up and— she can hear? The thing is, she was born deaf, so that’s kind of weird? I figured somebody should probably be told…”

He tries to keep his voice level so as not to alarm Brynn at all - she certainly can’t understand the words, but she can hear his tone almost certainly.

Well, that brings a long few moments of silence, as if the person on the other end has no idea how to respond. "We'll let her nurse — someone will be there shortly."

Brynn's hand squeezes Lance's. With her right hand hesitantly uncovering her ear, she looks at the appendage that she can't feel and signs — it's slow and the signs don't look quite right sometimes, but her hand is at least obeying her commands to move.

Science experiment. As in, she's probably going to be one. The expression on her face is apprehensive. She hates hospitals, and there is a whole lot happening that has to be processed. She is scared to death. Brynn can't seem to let go of his hand, her knuckles white. She has a headache that is spiking into the stratosphere, yet she signs urgently, Stay.

That hand in his is squeezed fiercely in return, and Lance looks back at her with a faint smile, trying to look reassuring as he remains there seated by the bedside. He doesn’t need to say anything, audibly or through sign, to tell her that he’s staying.

That’s what family does.

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