Still Blood


jac_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Still Blood
Synopsis In the soft glow of the late morning light, Jac Childs' own still manages to shine brightly.
Date January 17, 2021

Fournier-Bianco Memorial Hospital

Beyond the privacy curtain and the closed door, the world is alive and bright. Nurses and doctors chat about post-shift plans in the corridor or discuss patients in coded language at the nurses’ station. Orderlies scurry about from task to task, whether it’s cleaning or restocking or any other sort of mission they're trusted with. Somewhere near the nurses’ station, a radio churns out a staticky advertisement for Prufrock’s Books. Fluorescent lights in the ceiling glow at full power, creating the illusion of daylight indoors.

Within the room, shielded by the closed door and privacy curtain, it's dark and quiet. What little light manages to penetrate comes from beneath the door in a small puddle that's absorbed by the dimness before reaching too far. A brighter slash comes from the window and cuts a narrow band around the foot of the hospital bed. The sound that does find its way into the room is a distant murmur, only just touching into audible ranges as long as the door remains closed.

It's peaceful. A refuge from the busyness outside with its questions and curiosities. It's just the way Jac Childs wants it until whatever damage that has ruined her body finally claims her.

The noise gets louder again for a moment, then fades once more, the signaling of the door having opened and shut again. The sounds of soles against the floors are quiet, but not in the soft way that the nurses’ are. This isn’t someone on their feet for nearly as long as they are.

A blonde head peeks around the curtain first, looking to see if the inhabitant of the bed is alone and awake. The rest of the woman steps through a moment later, caution in her expression as she comes to stand in front of the whiteboard on the wall across from the bed that conveys information about the girl’s condition, the frequency of her medications, and the like.

But for all that Odessa has been practicing medicine before she even reached adulthood, hospital code may as well be ancient Sumerian to her. She turns away and looks back to the girl in the bed, waiting anxiously for signs of recognition.

The bed is a tangled mess of seafoam green blankets and white sheets, with a stillness to it that implies the girl in it has registered a disturbance in the room. And that disturbance must be analyzed before it's addressed. Blue eyes find a small opening among folds of clean linen to watch while Odessa examines the boards with words even she can't make out.

Jac’s eyes raise to meet Odessa’s when the blonde turns. In the dim, it takes a few seconds before recognition sets in. But they're short seconds, and followed by the teen unraveling from her nest far enough to hold a pinky out to her aunt.

The tears are instant in Odessa when that hand slips out from under the blankets. Swift, sure steps, aided by her cane, bring her to the girl’s side where she immediately links her own pinky with the offered one.

“I’m here, Jac,” Odessa whispers, bending down to press a kiss to that red crown of curls. “I’ve been worried about you.” The fact that she recognizes her gives her aunt hope that she wasn’t sure she dared to have.

“I don't know what happened.” Jac shifts, legs and arms moving in the tangle of bedding until her head is exposed and her legs and body are further twisted and tied within layers of fabric. For a second longer, the teen struggles to kick free, but gives up with a defeated sigh. “I don't know why it happened. I don't… know.” She lifts her eyes to search Des’ as she tries to explain and apologize, then allows them to angle away again.

When Jac gives up her struggle, Odessa calmly steps in to help, gently rearranging the blankets until the girl is no longer twisted up in them and they’re resting easily atop her thin form. The action helps to quell her tears, bring herself back to center. She brushes the hair from Jac’s forehead affectionately with a crease of concern to her brow before withdrawing.

“That’s okay. You don’t have to know. That’s what doctors are for. We figure out what happened to you. And eventually, we’ll piece together what happened to you at home before you found yourself here. It isn’t always clear at first blush, and that’s not anything to be scared of. That’s very, very normal.” Odessa does her best to reassure her niece, pulling a chair up close to the bed and sitting down alongside her with her cane propped up against the armrest. “I took some samples of your blood the other day while you were still asleep. I’m going to figure this out, ma bibiche.

Fingers curl around the edge of the blanket, and Jac curls onto her side with hands tucked under her chin. She draws her assurances from Odessa with a small nod. Someone has to figure out what happened, and she has to hope that someone will eventually know what's going on.

Her eyes lift to her aunt as the chair scrapes closer, then lower again to the bed rail. “Is it still blood?”

“Your blood is still blood and not some kind of glowing green chlorophyll, I’m afraid,” Odessa responds with a wrinkle of her nose and a smile. “You’re still human.” She reaches out to Jac again, now that she’s seated and her cane is set aside properly, making herself available with her hand resting comfortably against the mattress.

At least there's that comfort, still being human with human blood. Jac shoulders her head deeper into her pillow, half hiding her face against it. “Would've been pretty primal if it had been turned into something new,” she muses. It lacks heart, but she makes an effort to joke and avoid what she's really afraid of. “Something that glows, like those deep sea fish.”

“You’re pretty primal just the way you are,” Odessa promises. “You glow in a way that you show only to the people special to you, so only they can appreciate. If that’s not primal as fuck,” she posits without self-censoring for her niece, “then I don’t know what is.”

Odessa smiles the smile of the weary. The kind of exhaustion that’s emotional rather than physical, though in her condition there’s certainly some of that, too. She must have been waiting for word of Jac’s situation for some time. “For now,” she directs, “you need to get your rest. The sooner you rest up and feel better, the sooner you can go home to your mother and sister. I’ll work on solving this mystery all the while.”

There’s a squeeze around her heart, a cold dread that trickles down Dr. Price’s spine that all her knowledge may not be enough. That she won’t be able to save them — save Jac — from whatever’s coming.

She’ll never let on.

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