Spares No One


megan3_icon.gif rue4_icon.gif

Scene Title Spares No One
Synopsis Megan makes the rounds to check up on one formerly in her care.
Date March 17, 2020

Elmhurst Hospital

There are Hounds in Elmhurst. This is not a new thing. It's a little newsworthy if only because a particular silvery-copper nurse has a tendency to get possessive of those Frequent Fliers when they show up, despite the fact that she's technically in the ER department. Megan Young still, after all this time, takes care of her people — and the Hounds are her people.

February Lancaster is a name she hasn't run across in recent years, but she remembers it quite well. A quick check at the younger woman's chart while she's on her break has the nurse making for Rue's room to personally check on her. She taps lightly before letting herself into the room. There's no waiting around in this place for acknowledgement and no agency for the patient to really say 'don't come in' — it's a hospital, there's no expectation of privacy here!

"Long time no see, kiddo." The husky voice of the nurse has an edge to it of concern that is more than the usual concern for a patient. "How you feeling?"

“Nurse Young.” Some things don’t change. Rue Lancaster was always polite with her address back in the days before the war, and it holds true now. She’s propped up in her bed, alert while somehow managing to appear absent at the same time. Her chart speaks to her trauma, both physical and mental. Some days are a battle to force her to eat — and that shows in her frame, leaner than Megan might recall — that she’s only given up after someone threatened her with a feeding tube.

She hasn’t been an intentional nightmare of a patient, but that doesn’t make it better.

The skinny redhead has dark circles under her eyes and an IV drip in her arm. Her freckles look darker against her pale skin. Like she’s a ghost in a hospital gown. And a back brace. She’ll be wearing that for a while. The drugs in her system keep her sedate, but it’s the weight in her heart that’s what really holds her down.

Rue doesn’t have to answer the question of how she’s feeling for Megan Young to know.

Megan deals with too many damaged people to count, Huruma topping the list. So having another of the Hounds in here to gently bully, cajole, and otherwise manage is actually something she is good at. Moving forward, she does the usual thing — checks Rue's pulse. It gives her an excuse to touch the younger woman and be close, to get a good feel for her mood and her demeanor.

As she counts the beats, the nurse studies Rue's face. Then she nods to herself and pulls up a chair to settle in for a short visit. In typical Megan fashion — some things have not changed in the interim — the older woman says, "Your duty nurse is worrying about you. The physical will heal if you stop getting in your own way. And Epstein is beside himself." As much as that guy ever gets.

She tips her head. "Want to tell me why you're stuck in your own head and making things harder on yourself than they need to be? I mean…." Megan offers her a rueful smile. "I know we gingers are pains in the ass, but this is going to bite you in yours if you're not careful, m'girl."

Rue obediently offers her wrist when Megan reaches for it, eyes politely diverted away as the nurse conducts her study of her features. It’s like there’s no one behind her eyes. Not really. Not until that name is invoked.

There’s a huff of bitter laughter as awareness shifts back into place. “He isn’t.” Epstein. “You don’t have to feed me that line.” Rue shakes her head. She’s not going to dwell on that any longer than she has to, considering the matter closed with only that little exchange.

“My entire squad is dead, ma’am. I don’t deserve to heal.”

"Well, that's just the biggest line of bullshit I've heard in a while," Meg replies in a candid voice that lacks any real emotion except weariness. "We've all lost squads before, Rue." Maybe not whole squads, but enough. They're all soldiers. Her tone is gentle, even kind despite the smack the words offer. "You and your team volunteered for dangerous work. It sucks that they're gone, kiddo." Something in the way she looks at Rue would tell the younger woman she knows exactly what it's like to lose people, even if Rue didn't know exactly who Megan ran with through most of the Civil War. "You can Monday morning quarterback yourself into oblivion…. but it doesn't bring them back. And the last thing they would want is for you to give up and leave the others behind to grieve yet one more loss."

The nurse simply lays down all the information as if she completely expects Rue already knows it. But sometimes knowing it is just not enough. "The ones of us left? All we can do is band together and hold one another tight." She holds out her hand next to Rue's on the bed. "It's a long, dark walk out… but I'll walk with you if you let me."

“They’re dead because I made the wrong call,” Rue insists, eyeing that offered hand without making any move to take it. “I got them killed.” It’s the survivor’s guilt talking. Megan’s been around long enough, seen and lived enough to recognize its face. But it’s all delivered without affect. It’s all just fact to Rue.

“I can’t help but think—” The wounded soldier cuts herself off, jaw going so tight it may as well be wired shut. She very nearly shared a feeling there, and that’s dangerous territory.

"You can't help but think 'if I'd just made a different call', 'if I'd just moved faster', 'if I'd just been smarter'…" Megan's tone holds sympathy, but no pity, for the younger woman. "Yeah. I know it. Every commander in the field eventually loses people, Rue. All of us. And we all come away feeling like it was our fault. Sometimes it is," she acknowledges quietly. "A bad call made with the best information available at the time or a mistake made in the heat of combat." She holds Rue's eyes if the young woman will allow. "Most times it's just the nature of a battlefield." It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's the truth. Where does friendly fire come from, after all?

"You are living the worst part of being a soldier. Of being the team's lead. The sense of responsibility is both a good thing and a bad one, kiddo. And your instinct to blame yourself? Every leader has it — it's what makes you good at your job. You take responsibility. But it will lie to you too… because accepting that there was nothing you could have done different at the time is a horror too brutal to face sometimes. No leader deals with the helplessness well."

She smirks faintly, never moving her hand from within Rue's reach. All the younger woman has to do is take it. "Trust me… you are not alone in this. You wanna hear about the amount of beating up of himself Ryans has done? Or Colette Demsky? Or me?" Even the nurse has lived it. Is in some ways living it now because part of her is kicking herself for not being out there with Huruma and Lucy.

No!” Rue shouts, Megan having finally broken through her exterior walls to find the anger underneath that comes part and parcel with grief. “I don’t want to hear how anybody fucking else might have it worse than I do!”

The heaving breaths that come from the outburst send her head rocking back into the pillow behind her with a groan of agony. None of her muscles are happy about what she’s asking of them at the moment. “It wasn’t a heat of the moment decision! I had all the time in the world to think. To consider. And I just. chose. wrong.

And it had cost the lives of her teammates. That the civilians lived, that her auxiliary had survived… None of that feels like a win. Those were supposed to be givens. “I could have done so many things different, and he’d still be alive.”

Finally. Getting through the wall is the best thing Megan could have hoped for just now. "Maybe," she acknowledges evenly. "In the end, kiddo …. whether you actually did choose wrong or not, hurting yourself won't change it. No matter what happened out there or why… it's done. Now it's just about living with it." There is no going back to the beginning and starting again. There is only starting from where you stand and moving forward. She still hasn't moved that hand. "I can't tell you that you're right or wrong about whether different choices would have had different outcomes. I can only help you walk through this outcome."

If she'll take the help, there are many who can give it around the young woman. PTSD is a bitch for everyone. Survivor's guilt spares no one.

“Avi thinks I should come back,” Rue says softly, after she gets her outburst under control again. “I think he’s a fucking idiot.” She doesn’t really, of course. But it’s easier to blame herself and to assume anyone who believes in her at this point has something wrong with them.

Reluctantly, she looks up to Megan again. “It’s not fair. He was good. He did everything right. It should’ve been me.”

Megan's heart hurts for the girl — she is still so young. But Rue has seen more than some people twice her age. "Sometimes even when you do everything right, you still lose," she says softly. "You know that. And it's not fair, Rue. It never is." And the younger redhead knows that too, but sometimes you have to hear it. "Being the one left behind sucks. Beating yourself up for the what-ifs doesn't change it. If one of your squad were doing to themselves what you're doing, what would you tell them?"

She is gently pushing, but grief has a path. And past the anger is real healing. She still has not withdrawn her hand; she is going nowhere.

Rue knows this. She’s lived it more than once. That doesn’t make it hurt any less. It wasn’t as personal as this is. It had never been her blown call that had gotten someone killed. It hadn’t been someone she cared about this much that died.

“Probably some asshole comment like serves you right,” she deflects. Her heels are dug in like a stubborn mule. Megan certainly knows the type. “You talk to Hark?” is a further deflection, but also a genuine concern. If Scott hadn’t dragged her away, she’d have kept digging through rubble until her body finally gave out and she’d be buried beneath the Ziggurat too.

Megan's wry, chiding half-smile patently calls bullshit on Rue's assertion. "Well, that would be one way to deal with it," she acknowledges. "Taking Avi's path is certainly an option." She'd rather Rue didn't. Doubts that ultimately she will. But hey — it's a path.

"Scott's okay. Hates that you're going through this," she says quietly. It's the absolute worst part of a job like Rue's. "Even when you know the job is dangerous, it doesn't make it hurt less."

“I learned from the best,” Rue says of Avi’s path. He’s still standing, so for all that he does wrong, he must still be doing something right. That’s more than what Rue feels she can say right now.

But she manages a weak smile for news of her teammate’s continued good health. “That’s good. I’m glad he’s okay.” Rue closes her eyes heavily, looking very, very tired suddenly. But grief takes a lot out of a person. So does pain. Rue’s got a lot of both right now. “I appreciate you trying, Nurse Young.” She opens her eyes again, but it takes three hard blinks before she brings Megan back into full focus. “But I’m just not ready to…” Forgive herself or consider moving on.

Now Megan moves her hand, leaning forward to grip Rue's hand. "I know," she says quietly. It really does take time. "And I'm not going anywhere. I'll still be here when you are." The promise is soft, the tone reminiscent of the same one she used after patching up Rue on Bannerman — she is in the redhead's corner and she is going nowhere, little chickadee.

"Sleep. I've got you." Meg smiles a little.

Rue closes her eyes again, now given permission to rest. As she starts to drift off, her hand squeezes Megan’s.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License