Path Out Of The Dark


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Scene Title Path Out of the Dark
Synopsis Sometimes a friend's voice leads the way home. Keep talking.
Date December 15, 2011

Bannerman's Castle, Infirmary

The infirmary is quiet at this hour. Megan is grateful for that — the kids who are recuperating are slowly getting their energy back and keeping them in the bed with nothing to do requires most of the non-SLC volunteers at this point. But here in the middle of the night is about the only time the redhead finds any peace to jot down notes for herself and the medical staff she has on what's been going on through the day. She keeps meticulous records of times of medication delivery, dosages, who is running a fever and when. It's an old habit and it's important.

She doesn't often have too many other people come in this late unless they're on the late shift in here or they're sick. Or unless they're Ben Ryans, who seems to sleep even less than Megan herself appears to. The rumor mill has been going wild today — the head of medical and the head of Special Activities had a closed-door 'meeting' earlier in the evening, and it clearly pertained to the events of earlier in the day. Richards, a young guard, has been given latrine duty until further notice and he was refusing to go to the infirmary to have his injury seen to but he finally dragged his feet over there. He came back in one piece, so apparently 'Nurse Young' didn't rip him a new ass. The kid looked utterly relieved and a bit chastened when he got back to the barracks rooms.

The nurse taps her pen against the paper she was writing on, her mind turning over a lot of different things. It's been a hell of a day.

In the doorway, Wright shrugs off her rifle. The guards posted here since the attack on Kaylee don’t ask for the gun, but they nod to her when she sets it down and let her pass without speaking. When she quietly enters the infirmary she glances around the room, looking to where Kaylee recovers from her wound. What an absolute shit show of a day.

She looks exhausted, dirty. Her attention turns to where Elliot sleeps in clothes donated by other refugees. Clothes to replace what he arrived in weeks ago, stained brown with dried blood. Not his blood. Not his wounds.

She crosses the room silently and kneels beside him. Lowers her brow to rest against his as she runs her hand over the stubble that has grown on his scalp in the previous weeks. After a moment she adjusts his blanket, then swivels herself up into a chair beside him. Tears spring from her eyes unnoticed, washing clean lines on her pale face. She sees Megan and manages to nod at her, too tired to feel embarrassed anymore. Yeah, I’m here again.

Glancing up from her work, the nurse's face softens. Megan tucks a lock of copper hair thats escaped from the ponytail behind her ear as she gets up, absently patting one of the leg pockets of her black cargo pants. She's more than familiar by now — this is her domain. But as she shoves her hands into her pockets, she seems to have the same weariness in her own face as what Wright's feeling.

"I think he might be doing better," she says quietly. When Wright looks up, Megan offers a small half-smile. "He's starting to show signs of coming around. Don't give up on him. The time you're spending talking to him could be what helps him find his way out of the dark."

Though she's usually gruff and businesslike with the soldiers, this side of her — the nurturing that drew her to nursing two decades ago now — often shows with the children and other patients to need the gentler approach along with the nurse's capable, gentle hands.

Wright releases a jagged breath. “I hope so,” she whispers. “I keep thinking of the shit we went through. Not the raid, that was its own kind of fucked.”

She stares into her hands in her lap. “In Merrimac. He got picked on when he couldn’t speak and I would get so mad.” Her fists clench. “I’d just tell him, ‘hey, I’m right here, you don’t have to say anything, just let me know you know I’m here’.”

“My knuckles would be fucked but he’d squeeze my hand. There was this kid with a mohawk who had a fucked up eye. From throwing a fucking steak knife in the air.” Incredulous. “He usually got the other kids worked up enough to fuck with Elliot and nobody would do anything. Ol’ knife-eye always assumed that if he got enough kids together I wouldn’t be able to stop him. No one in the foster system or the schools cared. When I got adopted my shitty parents didn’t care.”

“And now the Institute, they–” She swallows, and when the tears come this time she notices, wipes them away. “It’s getting sent off to fucking military school all over again. They made it so I couldn’t protect him.”

“I’m just waiting for him to squeeze my hand,” her voice wavers as she finishes talking. She leans forward and silently fights a sob, angrily clutches her knees. “What if we don’t make it and he never knows I was here?”

Megan never takes her hands from her pockets, giving Wright all the room in the world to lay out her fears, her worry, her anger at everything that Elliot has suffered. She simply listens. When Wright's voice cracks, it's then that the redhead moves to step forward, putting a firm hand on the other woman's shoulder. "He will." There is a conviction to the tone that insists she won't stand for anything else. But as she squeezes gently, Megan's voice remains firm. "His eyes flicker when you're talking right now." It's said in a low voice, giving hope where maybe it was beginning to falter. "Earlier when you were in here, I noticed that his breathing changed when you left. I'm not an expert by any stretch, but… that seems to me to be a good sign. When someone is unconscious but they're fighting their way up to consciousness, they often give those subtle cues as they get closer to waking."

All of it is calm, the science of it offered as tangible evidence that he is improving. Megan's pretty much always a reassuring voice in this place. And she makes a point of not giving false hope — only offering evidence based on experience. "I think, after you get a little sleep tonight, you should come in and read to him." If nothing else, it gives Wright something to do — but the nurse also has some hope that much like a coma patient, if Elliot can hear Wright, he'll fight his way back harder.

"What can I do for you tonight, here, to make it easier?" she asks quietly. Aside from the touch on her shoulder, Megan hasn't encroached on Wright's personal space. She's not exactly the most touchy-feely person sometimes, but she's never failed to have everyone's back either.

Wright doesn’t flinch from Megan’s grasp, but looks up and meets her eyes. As Megan speaks, Wright has no reason not to trust her, she’s seen Megan handle the fallout of this catastrophe all while dealing with a bonus plague. She feels the edges of something like dawn inside her chest. and believes her. Wright turns to Elliot with the first real shred of hope she’s felt in six months. She scrubs the tears from her eyes with her sleeve and nods with resolution.

“I can do that.” she says, “I have this book he takes everywhere. I keep it when he’s on assignment. It’s weird as fuck but he can’t get enough of it. Northern Lights, though that may only be the first part of it, I can’t remember the series name. The cover is trashed.” She realizes she is babbling and stops, shakes her head.

“Can I stay with him tonight? Even just until the guards change?”

There's a moment where Megan considers refusing — Wright looks like she could use some significant rack time. But then, so could they all. "Sure," she concedes easily. It feels good to be able to give something positive today. "You can use the cot in the corner for a few Zs, okay?" It's more than a recommendation but not quite an order. "I'm going to catch an hour in the cot in the other ward, if you're okay here with him." She slants a look at Elliot. "If he does come to, come and get me." She's taken to basically sleeping down here since the flu got started but now that it's easing she allows herself the power naps instead of pulling 16-hour shifts with barely four between.

She gives Wright's shoulder one more squeeze of reassurance. "He's a lucky guy, you know. Friends like you aren't easy to come by." Megan smiles slightly. If anyone's faith will haul Elliot out, it will be this young woman's. The nurse steps back and gathers her sweater to take to the cot — it's damn chilly in these stone walls.

“Thank you,” Wright says, quietly but with new resolve. As Megan leaves her behind, Wright curls up behind Elliot. She slides under the blanket and makes sure he’s still properly tucked in before wrapping her arm around him. She takes his hand in hers and rests her head against the back of his neck. Listens to his breathing. Feeling his pulse in the quiet.

It’s the first time today that she hasn’t felt like the room was on fire. The first time in weeks she hasn’t felt like she could scream in the face of anyone who talks to her. The first time in months that she hasn’t felt a weight tied to the inside of her ribcage.

“Hey,” she whispers, “You don’t have to say anything. I’m right here. Whenever you’re ready, you know what to do.”

The shittiest year of her life is nearly over.

“No rush.”

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