For Whom the Bell Tolls


wf_huruma1_icon.gif wf_lucille1_icon.gif wf_megan1_icon.gif wf_ryans1_icon.gif

Scene Title For Whom the Bell Tolls
Synopsis The promise of loss yet to come is met with compassion, strength and dignity.
Date March 28, 2011

In Dreams

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

"Take these. They should help the pain a bit for tonight."

Two pills are pressed into a shaking and trembling hand and the young man turns to look at the redheaded woman at his side, tipping his head in the direction of the door of the dimly lit infirmary. There stands another man, watching with worried blue eyes, his feet in the hallway should he need to be pushed out for privacy matters. A curtain is partially drawn around the cot on the bed, sheets covering the figure within. The thin sheet can't hide the tremors that run through the long legs beneath it, nor can it hide the shuddering moan that fills the otherwise still and tense room.

"Lucille," the man says, turning to find the other woman. "Help her while I talk to Megan?"

The younger woman hurries forward, moving to the bedside table to pour a cup of water, then moves in to perch on the edge of the bed. Her free hand slides beneath the head of the patient, cradling it as she lifts it. "Put the pills in your mouth, and then sip," she says softly, watching as the dark skinned and trembling hand belonging to Huruma struggles to bring the pills to her mouth, and Lucille slants the straw toward the older woman's mouth. A simple engagement band shines on Lucille's hand — good news that she has yet to share with the woman in the bed.

At the door, the doctor gathers with Ryans and Megan, and he looks at them grimly, his back to the two women inside.

Megan pushes a strand of silver-streaked red out of her face. "Dr. Greer," she greets quietly as she and Ben join him at the door. She glances up at Ryans. "May as well spit it out," she murmurs.

"Well?" Is the gruff response sharp with his tense response from the old man, hands resting on his hips, feet apart as if needing to brace himself for the news. Blue eyes drift passed to the room beyond. Impatient to know what's wrong with the woman who's been such a good friend to him and his family for so many years now. She was a part of the family pretty much at this point.

He folds his arms, the dark henley pulling up a little at the wrists as he looks back to the doctor, waiting. Impatient enough that he almost snaps out more of a demand.

Even within the stupor that pain causes, some things always stick out more than most; shadows on walls, the raking of burning claws inside of her senses, the glint of metal, the hazy mix of colors over a white backdrop. Everything seems disconnected, between when her eyes are able to pinpoint another pair. There are blue ones, above all else. Even Lucille's, normally such a stormy gray, seem stark like the reflections of darkened clouds on a blue sea.

Rolling around in that deep sea is brought to a halt when she is forced into moving her head up to catch the plasticky taste of pills between her teeth. The water is far more welcome, even though her fingers speak at odds when they threaten to dig into whatever comes under them, be it cloth or muscle. There is always something angry there, like the long-limbed twisting of an animal half-sedated.

Her hair is it's natural dark brown with the tint of red that she must of gotten from her mother, it reaches a little past her shoulders as her stormy grey eyes focus on Huruma as she cradles her head. One finger rubbing the engagement band on her finger much like she has zipped the silver locket around her neck for years, what was born out of nervousness has become just another habit of Lucille's.

"Do you want me too.." she trails off, wiggling her fingers in the air, the band catching the light for a moment. Meaning, do you want me to use my ability to take the pain away for now? "Actually.. I don't want to create a chemical imbalance." Her stony expression softens as she looks down at the woman she considers a mother figure. She was hoping to ask her to be a bridesmaid.. A look is given over the shoulder towards her father and the two medics.

"She's lucid today," the Ferryman doctor says quietly, drawing the two into the hallway to lower his voice further yet. "And normally I'd speak to her directly about it, except…" He grimaces and glances back into the room before looking back into the two worried pairs of eyes.

"I've never had to do this," Greer admits. "I'd think it'd be better coming from friends, or you might choose not to tell her. The dementia is going to come and go. She may have a few moments of lucidity a day — she might have days of it." He's bad at this — at 'spitting it out,' it seems, and he knows it. He shakes his head and finally turns to look at Megan more directly, his fellow medic.

"Are you familiar with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease?" he asks. "We can't be sure without a brain biopsy, and even then… it would do no good. There are other tests that aren't conclusive, none at our disposal — MRI, spinal tap, labs we can't run ourselves. But the signs point that way."

He nods toward the room, overhearing Lucille's words. "As for pain management — if Lucille wants to help her, she can, but I don't think we have the supplies for the long-term care she'll need."

Megan's face goes white. "You've gotta be shitting me," she murmurs, horrified. She looks up at Ben Ryans, beyond words. Back to Greer, she says, "There's nowhere she can go, Greer!"

A heavy sigh leaves Benjamin as his stomach drops, gaze going back to the room. His voice drops to barely a murmurs, glancing at Megan. His blue eyes probably convey more of the pain the old man feels right now, then his own face. Deep voice, cracks a little as he lowers it. "It's worse then that Megan… She may very well become less herself and more the animal as time goes on." Less controllable, though the weakness will help there.

"Thank you, Greer." Arms unfold and Ryan moves past them both and into the room finally, fingers touching Megan's elbow briefly. Boots scrape on the floor as he moves around the bed to where he can sink down to sit on the edge.

He gives the dark skinned woman a small smile. "Hey," he offers softly to his closest friend, his fingers moving to touch an arm and wrap around it in a comforting gesture, they look so pale against her much darker skin.

"No." The water helps. Huruma's spine seems to also relax, as if just a word was enough to let the pressure out. The shivering in her muscles subsides, for now, and the woman is able to suddenly be aware of the fact that the thin cotton on her chest is hot and wet, and that the bed under her is terribly uncomfortable. Fickle, even now.

Somehow, she finds the ability to shift herself as Benjamin moves around the edge of the curtain, though chances are that Lucille will be helping just a little. Let Huruma think that she is moving herself, just enough to put the base of her neck propped higher into the worn pillow behind it. Being weak in spirit is so much different than being weak in body; by now he has seen her heart falter- but this- her spirit is there, and her body is the one to falter and fail her but by bit.

Huruma can still use her god-given talents; though the disease has taken a great many things from her, and it is painful to do so, she can only find true mental solace when she puts her ability to roam. Perhaps she can feel Ben's trepidation even now, it is difficult to tell. The look in her eyes when they meet his lets him know that she does know there is something wrong. The wiry, dark arm under his hand has that clammy sort of warmth to it; it twists over and her palm finds his forearm, slender fingers raking just slightly against the inside of his wrist.

Lu's eyes flick briefly to her father and as they do. They begin to burn that hot golden color as she uses her ability of Huruma. The benefits of this? The pain immediately fades from Huruma's senses. It happens as soon as Huruma utters the words no. But she doesn't listen, the woman needs relief and damn it.. Lucille is gonna give it too her. Plus, she's gotten quite good it and practices makes perfect.

"Dad.." she says with a tilt of her head, the necklace she always wears now catching the light as well. She doesn't continue what she was going to say though, this must be hard for her dad because it's hard for herself.. to see this powerful, amazon brought down and confined to a bed. My, don't the times change us. She doesn't cry, not in front of her father or Huruma. She'll save that for later.

"She'll have to stay here," Greer says quietly to Megan. "There are a few other things that it might be — none of them very good, and most of them progressive and terminal, or I'd be more assertive about testing… but the signs…"

The young man drops his gaze, looking away from the patient in the room as he speaks yet even more quietly. "There are stories." Not everyone knows, of course, of the woman's darker appetites, but some do. Some talk.

"The sad thing is that I guess, from what I've heard, she didn't for so long… but living like we do here, forced to live like rats in cages… it changes us. It makes us the animals that they make us to be." His voice rises a little, and he flushes with anger.

Greer nods in at the woman. "If she did it in retribution for what they've done to us, then I can respect that. And I'll do my best to keep her comfortable." He clears his throat.

Back to business. "If her ability starts to affect people because of her pain or dementia, you might consider negation drugs, and of course, isolation, aside from those who can handle her. Depending on supplies of course, both for pain and negation."

The doctor frowns. "At any rate… from the severity of her symptoms, I would say no more than a year. It seems to be fairly rapid onset, given the first problems she reported with coordination and memory."

He puts a hand on Megan's. "I'm sorry," he adds.

Jesus, Megan thinks. God, what have we come to? The nurse puts one hand atop her head and the other on her hip as she watches the group in the room. There are few options here, and what comes next…. It has to be Huruma's choice. But in her heart, she figures that she knows what the other woman will choose because she's watched the choice be made over and over through the years… the dark woman will not choose to be a threat to the people here. It is not in her. She slants a Look at Greer, displeased and unhappy, squeezing his hand. He doesn't understand what they're facing here. "Negating her will turn her into a killing machine with no remorse whatsoever. She cannot be kept here negated." Which leaves… few options.

Schooling her features, Megan walks through the room, dropping her hands. And she joins Lu and Ben at Huruma's bedside. This period of lucidity may not last long, and she wants to be able to talk to her friend. "Hey, lady," she murmurs quietly.

His hand slides down to take her weaker one, Ben's emotions a choatic whirlwind that come from a long friendship and the stomach sinking worry for her health and the fresh stirring of sorrow and dispair from the doctor's news. So she'll know it isn't good news, despite the smile he gives Huruma.

Lucille pulls his attention from Huruma for a moment, giving a small shake of his head. The movement of Megan joining them, he glances up at her. There is a rare helplessness there. He had been intent on telling the dark woman what was wrong, but the diagnosis… He doesn't have the heart.

He thought he'd have the strength to do something like that, break that kind of news. However, words seem to fail him. Ryans can only sit there dumbly, holding the sick woman's hand. He looks up a Megan, hoping she can say what he can't get himself too.

Huruma can't actually expect Lucille to listen; there is a slight pinch of relief when she realizes that the girl didn't even dare take the command. She did want it- but she didn't want to put that on Lucille's shoulders. When Megan is the last one to come over, that cements the situation fully. Bad news. Ben's fake smile, though obviously fake, is appreciated regardless. Somehow it is better to see him smiling to her, instead of whatever else it could be. The hand under his is still firm, but he'll be able to feel the shudder of small muscles that makes it slacken against her will. Her lips close over the line between them, and the expression gives her cheekbones and jaw a much needed contrast to make her look like herself.

"I would rather you lose heart now than'ave had none f'me at all." Unlike a regular patient in this type of position, the dark woman sitting on the bed is the first one to break that thin layer of ice between inferred and spoken. Huruma's words are, for the most part, for Ryans, though she can feel and address the same thing for both Megan and Lucille. Her eyes do not dare to stray far as she speaks up, skimming between the other women and back to Ryans, settling into unnatural stillness.

Maybe they won't even need to tell her, after all, if she appears to just know the penultimate fact.

Almond eyes widen at her father's expression and Lucille sets down the water cup so she can stroke Huruma's arm. She shakes her head with something of admiration for the older woman's words. "We're here," she says softly, continuing to keep the pain that racks Huruma's body at bay with her ability. Unfortunately, it cannot assuage the sorrow and fear that overwhelms the room.

At the door, the young and inexperienced doctor ducks out, leaving the family and friends to the private moment. It will not be the last — the disease that is eating away at Huruma's brains is aggressive and lethal but slow and painful. There will be time to grieve and time to prepare. Not enough time left with a loved one — there's never enough of that.

Megan moves to sit down on the other side of Huruma's legs, never dropping the other woman's eyes. They are both soldiers… they have fought a long time beside one another. Meg has great respect for her abilities. And will do her the courtesy that she has always given — the unvarnished, unembellished truth. She says softly, "The episodes of lucidity are going to be … few. In between, the best we can do is sedate you into unconsciousness. There are no treatments. There is no cure. Not even if we weren't here." Megan swallows and reaches out to stroke Huruma's other arm. "I wish… that I had other news. I will do… whatever it is you want done about this." There are ways to make it far shorter and far less painful. And considering what Huruma is facing? Megan can live with offering the option. "I'm sorry, Huruma." Her regret, her grief, the overwhelming sorrow… they are all evident to the empath, she's sure.

While they can see the tightening of Ryans' jaw, Huruma can feel that twist of his emotions as pain flares from her words. His fingers tighten gently as if she's fragile. Megan's offering of the news makes him feel briefly grateful to the nurse. Conveying so with a brief look.

It takes a bit longer for him to get his own mouth to work, Adam's apple bobbing once or twice before he looks back to Huruma. "You've worked hard to wiggle yourself into our hearts, my — friend. " It's not often that Benjamin's voice catches or breaks with emotions, the sound of his voice deep and comforting. "To change peoples perspective of you. There are a lot of pained hearts, I promise you that. You should find comfort in that." Even if he could never be what she needed or wanted beyond their friendship, she feels from him the same kind of emotions he would have felt for anyone in his family.

His other hand moves to encase the one in his other hand, but cradle it. "Whatever you choose, you know we will be here." There is an unspoken, 'I will be here'. "You won't have to be alone."

Megan was educated into being clinical. That doesn't make it less hard of an emotional relay for anyone. Huruma's ability does more of the reception than her ears, as much absorbing as it ever was. This time is different- it has never been as saturated, or as filled with a mental heat that being mourned even in life gives her. She breathes out through her nose, using the buffer Lucille has made to lift her other arm, trembling against gravity before it hooks quite boldly and assuredly around Benjamin's shoulders.

The deliberate gesture of this puts it among the most serious ones she has ever given. It is as much an offer of comfort for him as it is for her; the color of her irises against the rest of her eyes are stark ivory on tinted pink, tucking away under a stern bend of brow and dark eyelids.

The difference comes only when Huruma gets close enough to open her ability to him. Ryans could never hope to be as skilled as an empath- so she impresses at the front mirror of his mind her current gamut of emotions, flashing them there for him to sense in his own, before they begin to flicker away like a reel of film spinning its laps.

This is the ultimate show of bond and of faith, for Huruma- no matter how genuinely frightened, no matter how heartbroken, no matter how proud she remains even while facing death- she owns those emotions, as much as they have always owned her.

Pollepel Island

Jerking awake from the most uncomfortable position ever, sitting upright in a chair next to Abigail's bed, Megan makes a soft sound of incoherent agony. "No…. no, no, no…" she gasps, breathing heavily. She pulls herself up out of the chair and checks Abby, calling the other volunteer over to sit with her. And she manages to make it to the medicine storage room, closing the door behind her before she sinks down in the dark to muffle hysterical sobs in a towel. She didn't want to know that. She didn't want to see that. God, please make it all stop. She cannot bear much more.


With a gasp, Lucille jerks up from the bed. Her eyes blinking as she stares around Jaiden's apartment, she fell asleep on the couch. An old movie playing in the background, Casablanca. It takes the dark haired woman a moment to get her barring before her breathing slows and she looks down at her hand, the hand which in this dream had an engagement band on it..

"Holy fuck."

Pollepel Island

Stark white sheets slide off his form as Benjamin Ryans pushing himself out of bed, gray sweats clinging to his form, but the exposed skin of his chest is damp as he passes through the moonlight filtering through the castle's window, pacing away from the bed. It's more then that as he scrubs hands over his face, pulling them away wet with… tears?

The old man swallows hard and glances over his shoulder that the door of his room. Brows furrow for a moment before he takes a deep breath. Those emotions had felt so real, the pain of coming loss. He presses a hand against his chest as if he could rub away the lingering ghost of that pain.

It was something he wasn't going to forget anytime soon. Those emotions a dying woman showed him are going to linger for sometime, along with the moment he felt his composure break just as he woke.

Somewhere in Manhattan

There is no jerking awake, no falling out of bed, no rolling, nothing like the last few times that Huruma has had such vivid dreams. Maybe that weakness was stuck inside of her, panning all the way into the waking world. Whatever the case may be, when Huruma wakes from it, she only sees the landscape of a pillow as things come into focus. The rumple of her arm twined with a blanket in the empty space nearby, her own too loud breathing, the slickness and stickiness of her face.

She isn't at Bannerman- the walls are painted, the sheer curtains of the window peeled back to look over some part of the cityscape of New York. The fact she isn't on the island hits her when she sits upright, spine rigid and one fist curling seethingly into the bedsheet. Anger, sadness, confusion- Huruma runs the spectrum of negative emotions in no time. It also progresses into concern after a few silent moments of listening to the despairingly quiet outside.

The dark woman hits the mattress hard when she falls back over, glaring into the air and left only to wonder whether or not the dream was something more than just that.

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