Moral Support


f_abby_icon.gif f_eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Moral Support
Synopsis Abigail and Eileen have a heart-to-heart on the bathroom floor. Desperate people do desperate things — who knew?
Date April 20, 2019

St. Luke's Hospital

The women's bathroom on the first floor of St. Luke's is a pristinely-kept sanctuary of viridian tile and sterile countertops lit by wall sconces affixed to the mirrors and overhead lights designed to give the area a pale but comforting glow. At five-thirty in the morning, many hours before the midday hustle and bustle, this corner of the hospital sees very little foot traffic, which might be why Eileen is seated on the floor with her back to the wall adjacent to the sinks, a cigarette dangling from the fingers of one hand and what appears to be a pregnancy test in the other.

Smoking is prohibited everywhere except for designated areas, and the bathrooms are no exceptions. Fortunately, it's a well-known fact amongst the nursing staff that the smoke detector in this specific suite are in a state of disrepair — Eileen could light a fire in the trashcan, and the hospital administrators would never know.

Five thirty in the morning is a quiet time and Abigail was getting a start on the day to take the children to school, but she was swinging by the hospital because she knew Eileen was on shift, and much like Gabriel has uttered. Abigail's an addict. She's addicted to making sure that no ones hurting. But when the look for Eileen yielded nothing, it was off to that particular bathroom. A blonde pokes her head in, looking for a moment before spotting Eileen and entering into the room proper. Three steps, four and then a pause. "I never thought.. I'd see that in your hand"

"It wouldn't be the first time," Eileen says as she raises the cigarette to her lips, pulls a long drag from the filtered end and watches the very tip gleam red-orange, gradually eating away at its flimsy paper casing. With nowhere to discard the ash except for a damp piece of paper towel, she has to be very careful she doesn't spill any ash on her clothing — she's going to smell suspicious enough with the smoke's acrid perfume clinging to her scrubs and hair. "I wish I had the money," she adds, giving the plastic stick an irritated shake with a few quick flicks of her left wrist. "All this waiting, sitting on my ass when the equipment to test for EPF is just down the hall. What a fucking world."

"I can give you the next best thing to the equipment Eileen. You know that" The door closed behind them and the locked for good measure, Abigail moves through the bathroom to come to sit beside the petite Brunette. Blue eyes wander to the stick, looking to see if it allows some answer that so far Eileen isn't getting, before she offers up her hand.

The test hasn't yet yielded a result, neither plus nor minus. Abusing it isn't helping, either, and for all the petulant mothers Eileen has spent her career consoling, she should know better than to try. She lets her arm drop back to her side and moves her eyes from the windowed display to Abigail's outstretched hand, dark brows lifting dubious arch. "Is that for moral support?" she asks. "Or are you going to do something?"

"I can tell if your pregnant Eileen from just a touch. Like with Elisabeth when she was having Cameron. Unless you just want moral support and we wait to see if the still yields an answer one way or the other" She settles down beside the woman, wedged between her and the sink. "Are you hoping it's going to be positive, or are you hoping it's not going to say your pregnant" Her voice has dropped, quiet, supportive, sympathetic to the plight. For all that Abby's able to discover it for herself, she's no stranger to the stick test. She's taken about two since dating Deckard.

Indecision pinches Eileen's features and the corners of her mouth tighten, lips thinning out into a taut frown line. She does not take Abigail's hand. Instead, she looks away, returning her gaze to the stalls straight ahead of them and the vague shapes that define their shadows in the paint's glossy reflection. Of course the healer would be able sense it — her ability is tied so closely to the giving of life, it makes sense that the creation of it would somehow be entwined as well. "I don't know," she says, her voice growing hoarse. "What I want. What I need. I'm—"

"Worried. Scared. Terrified" She settled her hands on the top of her bent knees though she carefully tries to make a grasp for the pregnancy test so that she put it to the side, away from the hands that keep turning it this way and that. Flat surface is needed after all. "Stop looking at it. It won't change if you look at it" Her voice still soft. Soothing. "Gabriel doesn't know?"

Any fight that Eileen puts up is brief; Abigail has no real difficulties when it comes to wrestling the test from her friend's fingers and then peeling it away. The soft click of plastic clacking against the bathroom tiles underfoot carries with it a sense of finality. Deja vu. How many times have they talked about their incapacity to change what's already set in stone? The only difference between this and any other prophetic precursor to possible futures is that Abigail's right — they're both utterly powerless to change the outcome, because for once it really is predetermined.

Either she is or she isn't. Simple. Clean. Painless. Or so the theory goes.

"I stopped my regimen," she says finally. "We were fighting, and I didn't think. I knew if I asked, he'd just—"

"It might have happened regardless of whether you stopped it or not Eileen. In the past year alone I've had to go buy two of those, thinking that somehow Deckard had gotten me pregnant" The blonde offers, sliding an arm around Eileen and tugging her close. Even still, Abigail's limits about contact leave her to do very little of it that is beyond necessary on patients or even friends. "He'd tell you not to stop. He's afraid" There's no tingling or warmth, too much respect for the other woman to use her ability without permission on her. Abigail offers her shoulder for the other woman to lean her head upon. "If you're not. What are you going to do? Go back on it, or stay off?"

Eileen rests her head on Abigail's shoulder. Thick curls of aloe-scented hair, still damp from her morning shower, brush against the blonde's cheek and neck as she shifts into the embrace, trying to find a more comfortable position in which to wait. These floors were not meant for sitting on. "I love him," is her carefully measured response, bordering a whisper, "but this marriage was a mistake. I never should have come back to the States. Settled down. Staying in one place isn't who I am."

But staying with one person is. Must be, or they wouldn't be having this conversation. "I thought maybe, if I gave myself a reason, I might be able to change. Salvage things. We fight so much."

"Someone recently told me Eileen, that relationships are like that. The fighting. What counts I suppose is that you're still standing in the aftermath and beside each other, or at least in front of each other and have in your hearts to keep going" Her hand rubs up and down the upper arm of the other woman, much like she does for her own daughters. "Maybe it's time to move, Another city. Bai-Chan is going to college. People need change. Standing still too long in one section it can make one restless. Do things. It's why Deckard runs off and comes back all beat and the good Lord only knows what he does"

The bathroom stall is watched, thoughtfulness in Abigail's blue eyes. "Do you love him enough to tell him what you need?"

"I don't mind the fighting. It's the things we fight about." That much is true. Gabriel and Eileen have always fought, and in a way the irrevocable differences between them are as defining to their relationship as the similarities that bind them and hold it together. "Work. Whether or not I'm proud of the man he's become. What I want to do with my life. The future."

Eileen's hand finds Abigail's, her bony fingers cool to the touch as she interlaces them with her friend's. "He won't leave New York, Abby. Not for the world, and not for me. He's too attached to his badge, all the physical proof of his accomplishments. That's who he is."

She can do that, Hold hands. Eileen's cool hands meet warm ones, not from her ability, just the woman's warmth. There's a different ring on that one finger, where her gold band with Joseph had always been. It's gold band, with a row of small diamonds inset. But Abigails paying very little attention to her hands, instead looking over to the stick which is out of Eileens view. "So what do you do? Because for all that you love him, there's two of you in this marriage. And marriage is about compromises, doing what's for the better of both, not just the one"

The ring does not escape Eileen's notice. She rubs her thumb along the band's studded curve in thought, and for the first time since Abigail crossed the threshold, a small smile appears on her mouth. "Neither of us is very good when it comes to compromise," she admits, tone rueful, "we push and pull until something breaks, and then we work together to pick up the pieces. It sounds awful, but that's just the way we are. Volatile. Nurturing. I've gone months at a time without seeing his face or hearing his voice. I could go years if I had to, and everything between us would somehow still be— right." She pauses, not to gather her thoughts but to reshape her composure so she can ask, "When did you get this?"

"I don't think you or him or I or Deckard are very good at compromise. But in the end, we all work. Break and reforge. Sometimes.. you need to reforge the blade to make it stronger. Melt it all down and then shape it again, make it right once more. Maybe you both just really need that vacation. We can help, you have an anniversary coming up I think. It can be my gift. His and her's massages" The blonde murmurs. The ring though, she looks down at it and the slender finger that toys with it. The small diamonds winking back at her. Pawn shop find in Vegas. They didn't go for a jewelry store, they just waltzed into a pawn shop. This ring has history. A story.

"Friday" She pulls her hand away to pick up the pregnancy test but keep it's telling face averted. "What will you do, if it's positive?"

Apologize is the first word that springs to mind, but Eileen isn't going to attempt to deceive herself any more than she already has. She did this on purpose. She isn't sorry. "Tell him. Work through it. Hope he forgives me." It is, incidentally, exactly what she's going to do if it's negative. "Going off it. Taking that chance. I wanted to feel something. Lashing out at him was the easiest way."

"Well.." There's a deep breath as she nuzzles Eileens crown with her cheek and nose. "I suggest that we find you some condoms from the health clinic at the bottom floor, and you use those until you choose whether to go back on your regimen or not, because you are not pregnant" The little stick shown to her, the one pink line as opposed to the 2 that would show if she was. "But you both need to talk about it. I dont' think that a baby will solve anything, but maybe, it'll draw you both closer, the sledgehammer of responsibility that comes with knowing that it's not just about you and him anymore might do something. Or it might not"

Even without Abigail's help or the handy instruction pamphlet crumpled up in the waste bin, the results of the test aren't difficult to decipher. The expression on Eileen's face is. There's no way to tell whether she's relieved or disappointed by this piece of news, but the smile she's wearing hasn't faded or grown anything except wrier. "We're not that poor, you know," she points out as she takes the test from Abigail so she can see for herself. Sure enough: negative. "If I need protection, I'll pick some up after my shift." On the way home from work, presumably — assuming Gabriel doesn't pick her up. That would be an interesting conversation to have en route. "Thank you. For being here."

"You've been there for me" She points out, but still, it's what Abby does best. "Least I can do. you did help deliver Natalie" She can't ever repay that debt to Eileen. "Well. Are we going to sit here for a little bit longer, or should we see to getting a cup of coffee and some breakfast and I can tell you about Friday" Eileen will decide, whether the negative is a good thing or a bad thing when she chooses to. Like Gabriel, pushing her is sometimes not the smartest thing to do.

But sometimes a little push is all it takes. "Coffee sounds really good," Eileen says, giving Abigail's hand a tight squeeze. "I want to hear all about it."

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