Guest of Honor


bella_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Guest of Honor
Synopsis Ygraine receives comfort, help and compliments from someone she's been told to mistrust. Fortunately, she's high on morphine and in a degree of shock, so it all makes sense.
Date February 17 2011

Suresh Center, The Dome

It's only in comparison to its latest visitor that the Center looks in good condition. Shot up, bombed and blood-stained it has at least been as thoroughly cleaned up as the survivors can manage. Now, passing through the hole where the front doors used to be, yet another wounded fugitive plods wearily into view.

This one, however, has been quite a frequent visitor, her reinforced leathers and dyed red (though admittedly now fading) hair a common sight. But now, one sleeve of her jacket hangs loose - and a hole clean through the bicep, as well as freshly-added dark stains down the sleeve and over that side of the chest might be noticed by some observers. The arm that should occupy that portion of her jacket is instead bound tightly across her chest, while her naturally pale features now have a pinched and pained look of strain and stress. Her body language suggests that she's putting one foot in front of the other more from determination than from energy, though her face and bandages are far cleaner than might be expected given the rest of her appearance.

Approaching reception, Ygraine rather wearily raises her free hand. "I… could do with seeing a doctor", she says quietly. "I've been shot."

Reception is always a beleaguered place within the hospital system, being the most peripheral part of its nervous system, the first thing to be buffeted by disturbance from outside. With ordinance in play and the island rapidly degenerating into simple chaos, disturbance is more or less the name of the game, and the Briton's arrival is one in a long series - one that would be longer if more people could make it this far.

That's not to say Ygraine is lucky in any absolute sense. Only in comparison, also, can Ms. FitzRoy's situation be seen as remotely fortunate. But fortunate she is, in some small ways. The sorry soul working reception turns weary eyes to Ygraine and pushes a sign-in sheet in her direction, the beginning of what might turn into an (even more) nightmarish experience, before a familiar voice picks up from down the stretch of hallway to the left.

"Just the woman I wanted to see!" Bella says, striding over to the front desk, white coat fluttering in the breeze of her passage, "I was hoping you'd be making a visit soon, I-" And that's when Bella gets close enough to notice Ygraine's pallor, her posture, the rather obvious signs that she's here not for the good of Dr. Sheridan's cellphone battery, but for the sake of her own health.

"Here, let's get you to a cot," Bella says, reaching to touch ever-so-lightly at the shoulder of Ygraine's dirtied leathers, "if there's one available… What happened, is this-" she lowers her hand to the limp sleeve, tugs it up and out, making the bullet hole more directly visible, "-a gunshot wound. We'll take care of this right away. Sign in Ms. Ygraine FitzRoy," this is directed to the receptionist, "care of Dr. Sheridan. I'm bumping her up in the triage."

"It was last night", Ygraine protests, weakly attempting to downplay the urgency, though she's clearly very glad indeed not to have to try to tackle a form. "I had it treated by someone trained in field medicine, with a full military medkit", she informs Dr Sheridan… and the bandaging and strapping do indeed look both remarkably clean and distinctly competent - clearly not self-applied efforts using whatever came to hand.

"But… I, well. I wondered if I could get an x-ray. Check for fragments. Anything left inside or chipped off the bone. One of the most famous assassinations of the Second World War only worked because fibres were left inside the wound. I.. I think I'll be okay. But I can't afford to have it rot. I need to be on my feet. I'm half the transport to and from the Island. I can't afford to stop." Throughout, her tone remains the same - worried, and mildly dazed, with a definite degree of rather apologetic guilt.

Bella gives a small laugh as she shepherds Ygraine down the hallway from whence she came, her purposeful demeanor serving more to keep her patient moving than actual hooking or crooking. "Yes, I can tell you're not in shock. A little too talkative to be suffering severe blood loss. Still, an IV of fluids will do wonders. We'll set you up with that before I check to see when our next x-ray will be available."

With birdish turns of her head, Bella checks window after window for occupancy and, finding a space with only two other occupants and two free beds, she pushes through the door and holds it open for the Briton. "Take your pick," she says, "guest of honor."

Moving in the bubble of that mild daze, Ygraine allows herself to be shepherded along, perching meekly on the bed that lets her put her back closest to the wall. "I did lose quite a lot of blood", she says, though more in the tone of someone providing an observation than as a claim to great suffering. "One of the merits of being fit is that you have more muscle to clamp down on pain, and cut blood-flow, I suppose. I've seen it with cyclists who had bad injuries, before. Hardly bled at all…."

Slowly shaking her head, she focuses her somewhat too-bright gaze upon Bella. "I can't stay here for long. But I know I should make sure it won't get worse, so I'll stay for that. Did you say that you needed me, though?"

"Athletes also have a bad habit of pushing their limits," Bella replies, "sports injury is as much noble striving as stupidity or accident - not that any of those are mutually exclusive." The doctor shoots Ygraine a quirked smile over her shoulder as she checks the charts of the other resident patients. One is sleeping - it may be more accurate to say she's unconscious - while the other looks blearily across at Bella, his head wrapped in heavy gauze. The psychiatrist gives the man a warm smile, a very pretty expression that Bella has been using variations on for her whole life, then returns to Ygraine's side.

"Lose the jacket?" Bella requests, patting the end of the cot with her hand, "I want to check the dressing. It looks good but you never know with these jobs under pressure," she leans up and over to press the nurse call button on the wall, "and yes, I did want a recharge on my phone but first things first. You're a long term investment, you know?" Bella's smile is wholly cheerful, playful even - bedside manner seeming composed of brightness and teasing mixed. "Though not too long, I hope. We've all of us got lives outside we need to resume."

Every now and then, Ygraine's power - easily passed off as a Tier 0 irrelevance though it is - has a use other than the wall-walking which she has never formally told the authorities about. Now, it makes the process of getting out of a heavy, close-fitting jacket that has been designed to hug the joins that bit easier, a few subtle tweaks making the process of one-handedly maneuvering it off surprisingly smooth.

"The charger's in here", she explains, using her available hand to delve into one of the inner pockets, hauling out the device in question… and providing her with an excuse not to look at the other arm, bundled up in white and strapped to her.

Bella's not to sharp or attentive as to notice the subtle trick, so she must simply be impressed by what she imagines is mundane skill. The psychiatrist carefully undoes one end of Ygraine's bandage, lifting it all but for the last couple layers, not wanting to undo what good clotting has. She checks all she can otherwise, though, leaning in to give a small sniff. "Well, no risk of rot if you keep it clean," Bella informs her patient, refastening the bandage, "I won't redo what's already been well done. If you see whoever did this field work, please pass on my compliments."

The nurse called for arrives at the door, bespectacled and short, and doesn't do more than nod and disappear once Dr. Sheridan requests the IV and the expected wait for an X-ray. Bella glances at the charger before taking it in hand. "Thank you," she says, before setting it aside, "my phone is on its last legs and you know when there's a call you just can't afford to miss?"

The whole arm is exceptionally clean - a perk of having been treated by a man who can not only create one hundred percent pure water, but can also hold it still and move it as required. When the pain lessens and it heals cleanly, Ygraine will appreciate that rather more than she does now. Of course, no longer being on the tail-end of a morphine high might also help her to think more clearly.

"A call?", she asks, dazedly and amiably curious. "Are you expecting one from someone important?"

"No," Bella says, carefully (gingerly, even) taking Ygraine's shed coat and folding it on the ground beneath the bed before rising to a stand, "I'm not. But all the more reason to be prepared for the unexpected, hm?" The doctor reaches out a hand, touching the back of it to Ygraine's forehead. "Preventative care is the most effective, after all," she quips, "however powerful our directly applied techniques." She pulls the earpieces of her stethoscope up to her ears and begins what appears to be a standard checkup on Ygraine, a routine fallen into with the seamlessness of deep learning. "Forgive me if I've already asked," she begins, before interrupting herself, "deep breath, please?" and then carrying on, "but what is it you do out there, beyond the barrier?"

Ygraine has the hot-but-clammy skin of someone whose body is attempting to cope with being malnourished, somewhat low on blood, near exhaustion, highly stressed, and also drugged. There's no sign of anything fundamentally wrong, however.

"That makes sense", the woman in question agrees amiably. "I'm a courier, nowadays. Cycle in warmer weather, motorcycle when it gets tougher or for the long-distance stuff. Though I had to give up entirely after a time, last Winter…."

Bella takes note of how marginally off everything is, brow furrowed as she tugs a penlight from her pocket and lifts it to shine the beam into Ygraine's eyes, checking her reactions, her rate of dilation. "Courier? Then immobility must be especially unpleasant for you," she says, "do you work for any specific agency, or?" The light clicks off, and Bella gives Ygraine a half sheepish smile, "I admit I don't know much about your profession. So please, don't spare any details."

The arrival of the nurse, however, spares Ygraine the immediate task of spilling her life story to the doctor. Bella lets her set up the IV - likely this woman is much, much better at it than out-of-practice Bella - and soon Ygraine can feel cool liquids replenishing her veins.

Fortunately, Ygraine is quite thoroughly accustomed to being stuck with needles - and has even had IV replenishment a few times while competing abroad. "Alley Cat", she informs Bella, once the process is underway. "I signed up for them because they were one of very few companies to offer a service through the ruins, back when I… returned here. At the time, there wasn't even a mail service operating in much of the South of Manhattan, let alone one connecting the two halves - so we provided that. I set up a system that let us take mail for a large area in the South: assemble it at the company, and let people collect it from there. Things… have changed now. But I'm still rather fond of the company, for what it did when it was needed. For a time, the things we carried were just about the only sign that it was still one city at all."

"You have a poetic sensibility," Bella says, with a wry smile that indicates that this, like so much she's said, is a good natured tease, "I don't know how whole this city has ever been. Or any city, really. But I will agree that the divisions were never so clearly delineated as they are now. Our situation is, however, something of a case of overkill." Bella examines the IV, doublechecking, adjusting its drip.

"I wanted to help it heal", Ygraine murmurs, sounding quite sincere as she flashes Bella a somewhat bashful smile. "One parcel at a time, I could give the city a chance at becoming a community again. Without communication, it couldn't. With it… it at least had a chance. And… I hoped that by doing that, I could make a difference. For the better. And for a time, I think I did….."

"And all this, past tense?" Bella inquires, stepping back and looking over Ygraine in toto, "have you given up hope? The amount you've offered to help at the center… that doesn't sound like the behavior of a despairing individual," a smile of her own, a little bashful in sympathy perhaps, "I apologize for being so personal. Old habits."

Ygraine laughs softly, shooting Bella a somewhat wearily quizzical look. "You're a shrink?", she asks, sounding curious rather than either dismissive or suspicious. "Ah, yes. Think I heard someone mention that…."

Shaking her head, she seems to clear her thoughts a little. "A lot of it's past tense because it's no longer required. Queens now receives a door-to-door official postal service: we're no longer 'it' for a whole neighbourhood. Communications through much of the city are now much more stable. And… well. Whatever healing I've done with my parcels, it's hard to see it outweighing what's been done to the city since I returned in oh-eight…."

"Guilty as charged," Bella says, dipping her head in self deprecation, "and people can display those symptoms as openly as a cough. Of course, it really just amounts to deplorable nosiness when performed unasked. Forgive me," she gives a small shrug, "take it, if you will, as a compliment. A sign of your being interesting.

"And- yes, I can understand. Everything that's happened for quite some time seems to have happened expressly to demonstrate how little what we do really means."

Ygraine winces at Bella's last words, shooting her a rather unhappy look - though it's rueful rather than offended or angry. "Ouch. I'm still hoping that… even if all I can do is lift a few lives a little higher out of the river of unrelenting filth, then I'll have done something worthwhile in my time here. And as long as I think I can continue doing that…."

"That you believe that," Bella says, nodding, "almost gives me courage to believe it myself." She glances towards the door. "Much as I'd like to linger and chat, Ygraine, I am almost certain I'm needed elsewhere. Please, lie down. Rest. There's no rest for the wicked, but I think your nobility has earned you a little peace."

Looking startled, Ygraine blinks at Bella for a few moments, then blushes, swiftly and brightly, as she ducks her head. A bashful smile lifts the corners of her mouth, briefly banishing the fatigue. "Thank you", she says warmly.

It seems that even the evil Institute can offer succor to the needy. Maybe challenging Bella about her associations can wait for another time….

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