tasha_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Lucky
Synopsis Tasha awakens from what could have been much, much worse, and finds her father at her side.
Date January 8, 2012

Montreal, Canada

December 19, 2011

In the draft of a passing semi-truck, a snarl of shadow churns into the shape of a shambled figure at the roadside. Vincent shifts the weight of his daughter in his arms to better see her face, and blood pitter-patters warm into the snow between his feet, spattering across his boots. There’s still fog in her breath to mingle with the adrenaline exhaustion shuddering in his — heavier, stronger after a beat alone with her in the dark.

The highway is still for but for the the fading bump of tail lights far ahead; brittle winter trees scratching black at the night sky. To the south, the distant swish of an engine rises against the whisper of fresh falling snow around them.

There’s a sign posted at the shoulder — Mile 113.

One last breath, and they’re gone long before headlights have a chance to close in around the bend at their backs.

January 8, 2012

In a hospital room with a single shrouded window, nearly four-hundred miles north of the conflict ripping the United States apart at the seams, time eventually loses meaning. Sometimes the television is on — a 22” portal out of purgatory and into hell, terrible news marching mute across the crawl beneath images of all out war.

It’s on now, LED light catching bold on stainless steel and the crinkle of hospital sheets and Vincent’s low slump in a seat very definitely meant for visiting, and not living in.

He’s asleep with the remote under his hand, bristled and bald in a borrowed t-shirt and jeans. Scars interrupt coarse hair in thick cables across the backs of his arms and stand out under his throat where long sleeves and a collar would typically do him the courtesy of keeping them covered. There are bandages taped down over the knuckles of his left hand, stark white around the far side of his neck. He’s snoring. Faintly.

Everything but the television is in shades of inoffensive taupe.

A small noise, inarticulate and rough, breaks the monotony of the faint snoring and the constant beeps and hums of the machinery around Tasha’s bed. It’s not the first time she’s broken the surface, but each time, nothing much comes of it before she slides beneath again.

Talk to her. She can probably hear you, has been the advice of doctors and nurses; they themselves always greet her and speak to her when they minister to her needs.

She’s very lucky has been another common refrain for Vincent’s ears. That she’s alive is a miracle; that she’s breathing on her own, like winning the lottery. Still, it’s hard to feel she’s very lucky when she looks almost like a corpse on the bed, skin paler than he’s ever seen it. Her hair’s been shaved in the back, the damage by bullet and repairs by surgeon’s hands both hidden from view by a bandage.

This time, though, there’s a creak of the plasticized mattress as Tasha moves more deliberately. Her eyes open — also not for the first time, but this time they focus, her gaze moving from television to father to the IV.

She tries to speak but nothing quite comes out, due to a dry mouth and lack of use. She swallows hard. Tries again. “Dad.” The strained, elongated syllable comes with effort, sounds wrong in her ears. A hand comes up to feel the bandage at her head, fingers curling around it like she might try to peel it off.

The snoring drops off first. Vincent’s reluctant to rouse, thumb and forefinger dug in against his closed eyes. He looks like hell, past due for a shower, whiskers scruffed in thick under and around the abandoned lot of his jaw. One blood-mottled boot stretched out from its awkward rest under his chair, he breathes deep against a pop at his knee and reaches to feel for his phone.

The heel of his hand bumps over an empty pocket, and his eyes finally blear open.

He’s on his feet in a boil of black vapor, nearly too fast to follow — hands open at ready, breath seething through his teeth. A covered window, an open door, a hospital bed, Tasha. Berserker disorientation boils off as swiftly as the vapor, leaving a vacancy he doesn’t seem sure how to fill. He snags the remote as a matter of mechanical course, and punches off the television before he crosses to her bedside, already reaching to catch her hand in his.

“Hey hey hey, shhshh shhh.” His second hand clasps around the first, binding into a warm mit around hers. Hi, everything’s all fine here. Don’t touch that.

Tasha’s eyes are wide, wild; with this newfound wakefulness comes confusion, disorientation. Her breathing comes faster, in shallow, shuddering gasps. As her oxygen and pulse rise, so too do the electronic beeps and corresponding jagged lines on the nearby monitors — not quite fast enough to sound alarms and bring the footfalls of the medical staff from down the hall. For the moment, they are alone, still.

When his hands wrap around hers, her breathing slows a little, but for little hitches that raise her shoulders and chest.

Those dark eyes settle on his, finding her grounding there. She swallows, jaw and throat muscles having to struggle to do so. To swallow the fear back. To swallow the tears back.

She’s not successful.

The tears come anyway, swimming in her eyes. “How-” is about all she manages to get out. The words come difficult, and she scowls — confused, frustrated, at this clumsy mouth and voice of hers. She shakes her head slightly. How what is left to his interpretation.

There’s a smothering opacity to the black of Vincent’s eyes — an intensity to familial warmth more akin to a tar pit than a soft blanket. Everyone has their strengths.

One of his is foresight. He squares his wrist around hers, pushes fingers through fingers, and shifts one hand free to weigh reassuring at her shoulder, forestalling any effort she might make to shift up away from her pillow.

“We’re in Canada,” he tells her. “You were hurt, in the escape from Pollepel.”

Brow hooded, expression inscrutable but for a thick swallow, he holds fast to eye contact. What he’s telling her is the truth, including a slightly more arch:

“You’re on — a lot of drugs.”

The focus on his face is intent, but also drowsy — it’s hard for her to keep her eyes open, it seems; perhaps on account of all those drugs in her system. Tasha blinks, slowly, dark lashes fanning cheeks, pale but for the dark bruises beneath. Her expression shifts to one of concentration — not so unlike when she was a small child, held in the safety of his lap when he was explaining to her some difficult concept. There is the same eagerness to understand, the same frustration when it doesn’t come easy.

It’s almost like one can see the cogwork of her mind struggling to work, rusty from disuse, slowly beginning to turn. It’s probably painful to watch how long it takes before she can wrap her thoughts around an idea. A person.

“C-Cole?” she manages, the word followed by a shallow intake of breath that doesn’t escape. Like if she doesn’t exhale, Colette might be safe, in the space between breaths.

Her drowsy struggle to keep her eyes open is a convenient reprieve — he uses it to grimace against the moisture fighting its way into his eyes, jaw worked stiff. A rough scuff of brow to shoulder blots out the worst of it, leaving dark tracks on his sleeve. He sniffs, then, asserting dry air over whatever Situation is threatening his sinuses.

“I don’t know, sweetheart.”

More truth, already calculated against the potential damage of having to own an especially terrible lie down the line. Crude oil guilt is mitigated by pragmatism in a measuring look before he glances away to the door.

“Everyone’s scattered. Nobody knows that we’re here.”

The threat of tears to her father’s eyes is something Tasha hasn’t seen often in her life — and one that, even as slow to react and disoriented she is, she notices; emotions pull at a different part of her than logic and reason. Her hand grips his more tightly — it’s her left; the right hand lies, slightly curled, on her stomach, threaded with IV tubing and the heart-rate monitor. He knows, from what the doctors have said, that it’ll be weaker for a time — if not permanently.

That it’s not paralyzed, a miracle. So lucky.

“O-kay,” she murmurs, in another struggle for the two-syllable word. It’s broken but clear. Her hand squeezes his again. “Okay.” The second time is stronger. Clearer.

Whether she means Colette, herself, or even him, it’s unclear. She might be trying to reassure both of them.

She takes another breath and speaks again. “Love.”

Vincent stifles another sharp sniff into a turn down to look at his shoulder and the evidence streaked there — his grip firmed up around her squeeze. Shit. He blinks hard.

“Okay,” he agrees, pride 100% intact despite the dull sheen at his eyes. He is carved from stone, an impenetrable fortress of emotion. Inscrutable. No one will ever know, unless they’ve seen a person who has just cried at literally any point in their life.

“I love you too.”

Back on lock, he eases up on her shoulder to reach for a different kind of remote — one with only one button.

“I need to call the doctor.” Fair warning, wrought out from responsibility. He should have called her already. “You’ve been sleeping a lot. She’ll want to speak with you.”

Like a mirror, Tasha’s eyes fill with tears as she stares up at her father’s. She tries to nod, but that seems to hurt her, as she closes her eyes with a wince, sending a couple of those tears sliding down her cheeks.

“‘Kay,” she murmurs, simply, like a child. At least she’s able to understand this much — the doctors didn’t promise anything, especially not a conversation as fluid as this, simple as it is. It’s a hopeful sign. Despite all of the tears.

“How?” Comes the inevitable question, and this time her right hand tries to lift, to touch that bandage at her head, but it’s a clumsy movement that doesn’t reach high enough, the fingers remaining curled. “Gun?” She doesn’t remember — or if she does, it’s a hazy, nebulous thing.

A nod is about as specific as Vincent’s willing to get about the gory details here and now — he depresses the button, and drops the control aside. A gun or two was definitely involved, yes.

He curls his left hand around the bed rail and straightens himself up. Steeling himself out, building authority back up into his shoulders. Back to business. Like they have any business being here in Montreal — fugitive and fugitive junior.

“Fortunately you’re as hard-headed as your mother.”

There’s a small frown at the nod as Tasha tries to remember, tries to piece together the memory, but it’s simply not there. She watches for a moment as he draws himself up, her eyes blinking drowsily — the medical team might find her falling asleep when they get here; she’s spent so much energy already.

His joke is met with silence and he might think she doesn’t get it. The footfalls of a nurse can be heard in the hallway outside. It’s only when they step into the room that Tasha laughs, the sound rough and short.

A hopeful sign, indeed.

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