The Lies That People Tell Themselves


brennan2_icon.gif michelle_icon.gif

Scene Title The Lies That People Tell Themselves.
Synopsis Are sometimes just as painful as the truth.
Date August 28, 2011

St. Luke's Hospital




It's a sound that has oft occupied the minds of the two adults who are asleep on the couch in the private room at St. Lukes. Money and insurance gets you things private rooms, where others might have to share. The nature of the illness too plays a hand in that.




Harsh breaths, lungs struggling to suck in what oxygen that they can, bronchi, lungs rattling within the pre-pubescent rib cage, heart struggling to keep up with the needs of the body and the oxygen that it requires. Blood drips through one tube, other chemicals, nutrition and liquids used to help the nearly ten year old keep functioning. Tubes, machines, charts, notations, gloves, the objects and symbols of the sick. Flowers in one corner, a brown well loved teddy bear tucked under an arm. Smiley faced helium balloon. The walls painted pink with childish details that indicate the childrens wing.

The dark haired girl on the bed, make no mistake, is sick. Recovery has been a fleeting thing for her, the non-evolved version of the H5N10 refusing to give up it's grips on her where in others it had passed, or recovery was in sight. Day by day instead, she's been getting weaker. Treatments, have been coming up fruitless and with each failed one, hope seems to slink away just a little. But Marlena is still alive, and that alone speaks volumes.

Brennan stirs from where he sits on the couch, ankles crossed, Michelle's head resting on a pillow on his lap, hand tightening on her shoulder as he looks down to her, then to their sick daughter. He debates about waking her, seeing if she wants anything, a trip to the vending machines or see if the nurses will let him raid the doctors lounge. The downside to the curfew, is the lack of places open at 2 in the morning to visit a drive thru for a greasy burger, fresh fries and a milkshake.

As both doctor and mother, when her children are sick, Michelle is generally on high alert. But all the more so now, with this illness and their daughter's difficulty shaking it, so when Harve's hand squeezes her shoulder, she wakes up sharply, pushing herself up from the pillow to look at him.

"«What is it? What's happened?»" It comes out in her native French, as things tend to when she's sleepy or stressed. Her gaze goes to the girl, too, but only briefly before she shifts to sit up, a hand running through her wavy hair to tame it a little. A very little. "«Are you alright?»"

«Nothing. I just woke up. I am sorry» He apologizes back to her in french when she is waking and righting herself. «There's a kiss pressed to her temple and a gather of the woman to him in strong arms. «I'm fine. I just had enough sleep I guess» But he turns her loose after, to let her stay sitting or to check on Marlena.

He's spent his morning trolling Staten to no avail and had come back here. The kids at home, grandparents getting them prepared for school the was inevitably coming. «Did you sleep good?» He knows the answer to this already and Harve, like Michelle, can't do much about it. They'll sleep well when Marlena is back home, on the road to getting better. Not making them experience deja vu all over again seven years later.

Michelle leans against him for those moments, indulging in the comfort. When he lets her go, though, she stands and crosses to Marlena's bed. "No," she answers, her fingers brushing damp hair from the girl's forehead. "But I'll nap later." Her touch moves to the girl's cheek for a moment before she looks back to Harve. "She's too thin," she remarks, her arms folding across her chest. She doesn't mention that by thin she means frail, but Harve knows what she means anyway. "She will need a tutor at home. For the year. I think I won't want to push her into school too soon." It has been a rough time, this flu.

"You'll fatten her up. She'll get stronger" He tries to assure her, staying where he is on the couch. He watches her with their daughter, nodding his head in agreement to the topic of school. A tutor was the reasonable thing to do until she would be well enough to attend again. "Your mother can stay, we can find her a place nearby even, to help" Between her and the nanny, Henri would be taken care of and Marlena would have the attention she needed.

But even as they speak -




In the middle of nodding to the notion of her mother staying, Michelle tenses up with the change in the sound. She reaches to call the nurses in with the touch of a button and automatically falls into checking the girl over, the readings her machines report, reaching for the oxygen… The side effects of doing this sort of thing for a living. She knows the actual doctor working her daughter's case will come along, but she's here and she can do, so she does. Impossible to stand by doing nothing.

No doubt she'll be calling orders to the nurses when they come in, a mix of worry and reflex.

The readings on the machine are ones that neither she, Harve or even the young childs doctor wants to see. Would ever want to see. Failing, numbers dropping even as the split second that it takes for the button 's signal to hit the nurses station to signal help, or for the machines to start in with their loud dings and whines signifying failures and the lines across the screen to start smoothing out.

Which it does.

The room going from the quiet of night with it's expected sounds to the hustle of white soled feet pounding along the linoleum hall, the rattle of carts being pushes in and nurses rushing in through the door even as the line starts to smooth out and the small chest ceases to rise and fall on it's own. Brennan leaps up from the couch, fast strides to Michelle's side, check the leads even as a doctor strides in barking out orders for a nurse to escort the two of them out.

"Marlena," Michelle says to the girl as those lines flatten out, her hands gripping the bars on the side of her bed. "Marlena," it sounds almost chiding, like telling the girl to stop playing around, but with a sorrowful enough note to prove that it's born from fear and not anger. For a moment, it seems like she won't be letting go of that bar to get out of the way and out of the room, but once Harve is there by her side, her hands move to grip onto him instead, her own breathing turning shallow as tears form and fall down her cheeks.

If that wasn't proof enough of her distress, the fact that she lets the nurse lead them out certainly is. But it's only out of a stubbornness about crying in front of the children, as once they're out the door, she turns to sob against his chest. "«She has to be alright»," she says, words coming out too fast to really be understood, "«She'll be alright.»"

She'll be alright.

Lies that people tell themselves when they know that things won't be.

«It will be Mish. It'll be okay» He lies just as badly back to her, wrapping arms around the woman as more nurses squeak on by and barked orders come from the room leaving the two of them in the hall alone. He drops his chin, tucks Michelle's head under it and holds her tight, squeezes her tight, watching the wall opposite him, shifting the both of them so that neither of them can see into the room.

It's where they still are twenty minutes later when people start to drift out, nurses and other aides unable to look the two parents in the eyes, going off to start doing the necessary paperwork. The steady whine cut off, leaving silence in it's wake and eventually the doctor in his white coat, smeared with flecks of blood and stripped off gloves as he look left then right to focus on the pair of them.

When the door opens, Michelle has stopped crying, but her eyes are still red and she still looks just as panicked as when they left the room. She turns to watch the nurses walk by, and she knows all too well what that means along with the silence in the room behind them. Her hand moves to the wall and she sinks down into a chair, just trying to breathe.

When the doctor makes his way out, she looks up at him, taking in the blood and his demeanor and tries very hard to steel her expression. But she can't initiate this conversation, can't demand to know what's happened and how their girl is. She she just looks at him and grips onto Harve's hand.

Whatever will come, out of the Doctors mouth will sounds like the teachers in a Charlie Brown Special. "We tried everything" and "There's nothing more that we could do" will come out like the sound of a trombone as Harve and Michelle squeeze each others hands and hear the words that somewhere, deep down in their hearts and their minds, squished in with all their combined medical knowledge, they knew would be spoken.

When all is said and done, the doctor departing down the hall to start doing what he needs to do in the wake of loosing a patient, and Michelle and Harve going into the room, the Brennan family count decreases by one while the death count of this virus increases by the same.

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