Waiting, Again


faulkner_icon.gif finch_icon.gif ace2_icon.gif pride_icon.gif tower_icon.gif

Scene Title Waiting, Again
Synopsis When another round of calamity befalls the Sundered, those who care for them gather to fret and wait.
Date January 15, 2021

Isaac Faulkner has never particularly enjoyed hospitals. So far, they aren't proving to be an acquired taste, either. The fact that he wasn't one of the ones who suffered the attack this time might be a consolation, perhaps, were it not for the fact that it instead leaves him feeling bizarrely guilty.

So, for now, he sits and waits, sprawled in an uncomfortable waiting room chair – still in his Pigeon Courier uniform, even, because he'd left work the instant he'd gotten word. Because that's all he can do. Sit, and wait, and stare listlessly. And wait.

Fournier-Bianco Memorial Hospital

Sometime after 4:04 pm

It’s easy to zone out and lose track of the other milling about in the waiting area. There’s nobody there particularly vying for his attention, after all. But there’s a feminine voice raised at the desk. Not shouting, but with a volume and a firmness that’s attempting to convey some measure of authority all the same.

“No, you don’t understand. She’s my patient. I need to be able to see her.” The woman pulls back her hood and if the voice hadn’t rang the bells of recollection, the walking stick in her left hand might be enough. This isn’t the typical style seen in her on-hours as Doctor Pride, but when she turns to look toward the hall that would lead to patient rooms, her face is recognizable. Even beneath layers of freckle-obscuring foundation, dramatic eye shadow and bold lipstick. Her blonde hair hangs in perfectly polished waves. It’s all overdone for someone in tattered skinny jeans and a green cardigan hanging open over a tee shirt with an artfully faded print of an ace of spades.

Whatever’s said to her in return has her peeling her attention away from the hall and back to the line of defense between her and her goal. “No. You don’t understand,” she repeats herself, as if she hadn’t been heard the first time. “She’s alone. She can’t– I can’t leave her to wake up from this alone.” Her lanyard is shoved across the desk, a photo ID. Hell, it looks like she might be willing to give up a pound of flesh if they asked it of her. In the end it’s all returned, and she’s instructed to sit and wait like anybody else. She’ll be summoned when they’re ready to send her back, and not a moment before.

Dejected, Ourania makes her way toward the seats of the waiting area. She catches sight of Faulkner and hesitates, like she isn’t sure if misery loving company is a universal thing. No amount of make-up can hide her own worry.

Support for the moral support, party of one.

Ace Callahan Harry Stoltz tucks his sunglasses into the overcoat he's still wearing when he emerges from the sliding door entrance and into the waiting room proper. He's unburdened by familiarity with just about anyone save for Ourania, who he wastes no time rotating toward.

"They won't let you back to see her?" His voice drips with concern, brow knit with that and worry. "Would they release any information?" Harry rests a hand on Ourania's shoulder. The direction her eyes had gone in is noted belatedly, the green-grey of his own moving to where Faulkner sits. They'd move on back to her immediately, but something catches his eye about him.

Strike that earlier note. Harry has passing familiarity with this one. He remembers the shape of his face, his hair, his posture and profession. Curious.

But irrelevant, or at least he thinks. He turns back to Ourania, ruffling her shoulder comfortingly.

There is a girly sob, followed by a sniffle.

Walking briskly into the room with her arms wrapped around herself in her bright yellow puffer jacket, Finch has her reddened eyes down on the floor. Her shoulders hike up with every quick breath, specks of blood still on her sleeves as she enters the waiting room for the third time Faulkner's seen her do it.

She keeps needing a walk. The last two times, it had at least stopped her from crying quite so openly. No such luck this time, and she's still wiping tears from her eyes when she makes it to the middle of the room and eyes new people with a sudden thought occurring - stopping her in her tracks.

They, as well as Faulkner, are treated to a question that sounds as hopeful as she looks absolutely distraught. "Are you here for Nova, too?"

Faulkner's gaze is drawn to the sound of Dr. Pride's voice; someone else's problems, at this particular moment, are much more interesting than his own. It's enough to bring him back to something resembling life; he tilts his head, regarding her curiously. They were all, in a manner of speaking, Doctor Pride's patients… but who, in specific, is she here for? Interesting.

The second somewhat familiar voice comes with the entrance of one Harry Stoltz. Also interesting. Isaac watches him for a bit – Aman had talked about him on occasion when in his cups, and, as far as Isaac can recall, had not ever said a single good thing about him on any of those occasions. He seems to be doing a decent job as emotional support at the moment, though, so Isaac gives a mental shrug and lets his focus wander –

– right as Yellow Jacket comes wandering back in.

He's seen her come and go a few times, always looking like she's about a millimeter away from crying at any given moment. When she speaks, though, it catches him offguard – up to this point she's always been withdrawn. Her question itself makes him sit up a bit more. "You know her?" he asks. "Are you a classmate of hers?"

Faulkner's gaze flickers over to Dr. Pride for a moment – he wonders, briefly, if it might be Nova she's here for, as well.

Ourania shakes her head miserably to Harry’s questions. She’s got no traction here, and while she knows everyone is just doing their jobs, it does nothing to help her worry less. What does help is the slow realization that Faulkner shouldn’t be here for the same reason she is. And when the girl in yellow asks her question, that sees the doctor shaking her head again.

Her stomach sinks like a stone. “No.” The word leaves her in a whisper. It’s fear that settles into her expression next. Ourania exchanges a look with her partner, as if begging for him to do something that will make this alright. To re-write the reality of the situation unfolding.

“No, no, no… Nova’s here too?” Is it happening all over again? She just spoke to them all yesterday. “Isaac. What happened?” While Dr. Pride is eager to huddle up with him and the crying girl in yellow, she loops an arm around behind Harry’s waist to hold herself tight to him.

Forcing him to stick close even in the face of the crying starchild that's wandered in and is asking about another star-related event. Person.

But Harry wears the mask of himself charmingly, mostly for Ourania's sake, but also in the face of Finch's distress. "Take a deep breath, dear. Your… I'm sure Nova will be just fine." He puts on a small smile. "If it is anything like what happened in November, today, this moment, will be the worst. But she'll make a full recovery."

He shifts his arm comfortingly to have his hand rest high on Ourania's back. The reminder serves for her, too, if this proves to be another mass event.

"–ny changes, we'll expect a call." Down the wing from the waiting room, voices; one of them reveals to be a triage nurse. The other, a shorter woman who carries something gently commanding in her body language, the cut of her fitted coat, the tie of her hair, the muted shades of her makeup. Dark eyes catch the array of faces ahead in the waiting area as she and the nurse reach the joint of the corridor. "Thank you for your help," A hand moves to touch the nurse's arm, "I should let you get back to work."

And that she does, wearily turning towards the collection of worried loved ones here for more than one patient, though all apprised of one another in some way. The way things connect is always… something else, isn't it? It is the still sobbing Finch who becomes a point of focus.

"He's right." The woman who approaches Finch wears a kind smile, brown skin dimpled even though it's a closed one. "She's stable right now," She lifts a placating hand to Finch before looking around at the others gathered here, browline lifting on addressing those fretting feelings. The rasp of her voice remains certain. "They all are."

"Now, I know not everyone'll be happy to hear this, but I'm with the Exterior." If nothing else, they are always looking out, for better or worse. "You can call me Agent Tower. I can't make them let anyone in. Not right now, in any case…"

"A bunch of us are in the hospital again. That's all I know," is his answer to Doctor Pride, delivered in a low voice. It's not hard for him to speculate, though, and he knows it's not hard for her to, either.

Stoltz's comment about full recovery draws Isaac's eye his way; there's a grimness in that look. Full recovery is by no means a guarantee – even Isaac hadn't quite gotten that, as the dull ache currently sleeping somewhere in the back of his reminds him.

Still. There's a time for pragmatism, and this… isn't quite it yet. For now, better to focus on the brighter side.

And oh look, there's the DoE's latest. Maybe it's not fair to ask if any of these people have names – he knows that whatshisname, the guy who looked like Orville Redenbacher, had an actual name. What was it… Bright. That's right. Davis Bright. Maybe some of them just happened to have born into architecturally inclined families.

Still, her news is welcome. "Thank you, Agent Tower," he says, inclining his head to the agent when she speaks to everyone. His gaze shifts to the blonde girl, and he musters his best smile. "She'll be alright," he says quietly, nodding to her.

Finch shakes her head when asked if she's a classmate of Nova's, struggling to put more words together and to stop the floodgates both. She watches as she's addressed, but seems to grow smaller with every word that's said, with every smile she fails to return between tiny sobs.

She claims one of the seats, finally taking that deep breath– even if it comes in staggered parts of a whole. She needs air, if only to ask one of about a million questions she has right now.

But she dares only just to ask the one, casting a still panic-stricken look between Harry and Agent Tower. "What happened in November?"

Ourania knows an agent of a clandestine government agency when she sees one. She takes a half-step back when Agent Tower approaches, but she’s held from doing more than that by Harry’s hand on her back. Still, he can feel the uncomfortable squirm of her even through the wool of her coat, the layers of her clothes.

How can Finch’s question be answered? “There were… a few people who got sick all at once.” It’s the simplest version. “Which I think is what’s happening here now.” Though it fills her with anxiety to do so, Ourania turns her attention to Agent Tower. “How many this time?” She’s likely to have a better idea and more likely to divulge than the desk and their ridiculous confidentiality laws.

The moment Ourania wants to ease a step back, she finds a more than willing partner in Harry. At least for just that step. Running isn't allowed for either of them– not her from the Exterior agent, nor him from the wispy, weepy child crying in the waiting room. They could each help support the other in dealing with their respective disliked elements in the room.

"Whatever other information you can provide from your hoard of it will be deeply appreciated by all involved," Harry tells Tower with the greatest of sympathies.

Something about Ms. Finch and the open sobbing brings out a more concerned aura from Tower; to the young woman she gives a patient look, "They're safe here. Count to ten and back, hon."

"Something similar happened to some folks in November, they're recovering too…" Tower raises her chin to gesture softly towards Ourania, and that particular explanation. She studies the taller woman for another moment, thoughtfulness in dark eyes and the lines at her eyes.

"Several." The allowance of information for Ourania is a faith well placed. For the time being. "Younger side, some…" Yet it's the words out of Harry which get a small, dry laugh.

"Hoard? God, I'm not a library." Leaning back slightly, Tower's expression is incredulous only long enough to let it sink in; it goes as swiftly as it came, and she asserts her seriousness again, tugging lightly at the bases of her slim gloves. "Stoltz, right? I assure you that anyone who needs to know, knows what they need to know. If you want to ask something in particular, please, be my guest." A mouthful, ended with a twist of a smile to one side as Tower turns her head to address the space of worried faces. "My colleagues will be making sure that your friends and family will be taken care of."

Hoard? Well, that's an interesting turn of phrase. Tower doesn't seem to care for it that much either, which is vaguely amusing.

But there's something more pressing than Stoltz and Tower's conversation; Isaac's gaze shifts to the still trying-not-to-sob girl sitting near him. He regards her for a moment, considering… then, reaching into a pocket, he draws out a clean white handkerchief and offers it wordlessly to her.

Finch can only look on in shock when she realises this thing is bigger, still, than she knew. Gradually, she manages to get her bearings, visibly following Tower's advice and whispering numbers to herself between breaths, her eyes down on the floor.

The handkerchief entering her field of vision causes her to flinch, but she accepts it with a hand to her heart, pressed against yellow puffer. "I'm sorry," she rushes her words out through an apologetic, wobbly smile, "I've never– I haven't been to a hospital before, and I got scared, and…"

Then, just to Isaac, she says with fear almost cartoonishly slanting her eyebrows and the purest sincerity possible, very quietly, "… I thought maybe the world was ending?"

Ourania doesn’t turn to fix her partner with a sharp look or elbow him in the ribs when he needles the Exterior agent, but it’s a near thing. The department may have commandeered her research, but they’ve been sharing the results of it with her. To the very best of her knowledge, anyway.

“Thank you,” she offers to Agent Tower with sincerity. She didn’t have to share with her, and after her previous unpleasant interaction with Agents Castle and Toussaint, Ourania is doing her best to prove gracious and compliant. “I’d like to go back there to check in when I can,” she says softly. “I think especially for some, the familiar face will help.”

Knowing there’s no quick answer to that, she simply punctuates the request with a nod. It’s registered, and it will be addressed when it’s addressed. Ourania’s familiar enough with government red tape by now. Hospital bureaucracy is not much better.

It’s easier, instead, for Dr. Pride to turn her attention to the young woman in yellow. She rests a hand gently on her shoulder. “No, dear. It isn’t the end of the world.” She offers a smile that she hopes is reassuring in some way. “Can’t even see it from here.”

Harry had thought he was perfectly polite to the woman from the secretive, well-informed organization, but he's also capable of reading the goddamned room. He smiles thin for the time he's addressed and then lets the conversation slip on without interjection. Even if he wants to scrutinize the woman for appearing to know just who he is without any kind of introduction… Confrontation isn't the goal.

He similarly lets Ourania slip from his arm to go comfort the warbling Finch, content to stay a broom's length of distance away from her. Any comfort he'll attempt to provide to her will come at the tip of the bristles while she remains curled up and half a shade away from bawling, thank you.

"Hospitals aren't the most comforting of places, I know," Harry murmurs in support of Ourania's reassurances. "But you're in good company now. If you came in with your Nova and no one else is here for her, I'm sure they'll let you back for her eventually." He unfastens the button of his coat, anticipating they'll be here a while yet. His eyes drift to the offering Isaac has made to Finch, then to the man himself.

"Which one of them are you here for?" he asks.

Whatever it is about Stoltz and his thin smiles, it gives Tower enough reason to turn to the others; she frowns only somewhat on watching Ourania with Finch, pressing her own hands into her pockets and giving the girl a more thorough visual examination.

"Sure. Future's so bright you gotta wear shades." Tower murmurs, fists balling in pockets. "You've never been to a hospital before? Oh, this damn mixed up world…" One where kids can't recall hospitals or school, or God knows what else. On her last thoughts, she pulls free a phone from her pocket to check something, brows furrowed deeply.

"I've got to take this… If anyone here has questions— not demands—" Let's be specific. "I'll make sure the nurses share what they're allowed. And I'll brush'em up on visitors, 'kay?" This is more towards Ourania, dark eyes meeting face for it to sink in. "No promises." But she'll talk to them nonetheless.

Faulkner's mouth curls up in an actual sincere grin at Finch's comment, and he shakes his head. "Not today," he says quietly, but with feeling.

His eyes flicker to Dr. Pride as she steps in, then back to Finch; his brow furrows as he tries to find a way to ask his question again – just how she knows Nova – but then Agent Tower steps in.

And he's got someone asking him a question, too. Isaac's gaze flickers over to Stoltz, raising an eyebrow in surprise at his question. He mulls things over for a moment. "A friend of mine. Nova," he answers. Which isn't the entire truth – there's a whole tangle of reasons he's here. To see who'd been affected, to find out how bad it was this time and if there'd been any differences from the last. Mostly, though… it just feels like this is where he should be, for reasons he can't articulate very well. Isaac was here just last November, after all, and he's not forgotten what it was like.

"You?" he asks in turn.

Finch spares a short-lived but nonetheless sincere smile in return for Ourania's, before pressing the handkerchief to one of her eyes as if to physically stem the tide. But when her concerns are met with casual answers, her eyes seem to glaze over where she sits, like she's suddenly resorted to the equivalent of sitting at the kids' table at a particularly distressing family meeting.

As she sits, concern washes back over her, some unspoken worry pulling her back into her own thoughts even as she mumbles, "Thank you, Agent Tower."

“This is scary,” Ourania tells Finch in a soft voice that suggests this part of the conversation is meant only for the two of them, though the others can certainly hear it. “But I promise you, we’re fighting to help Nova. We’re fighting to help the others, too. We’re going to try to find a way to keep something this scary from happening again.” She catches the look in their direction from Faulkner and gently nudges the girl in yellow toward him. “You two are both here to see her. I think you might find some comfort in talking to each other.” He clearly has more he’d like to say, anyway.

Meeting Tower’s gaze isn’t the easiest thing, Ourania finds. In spite of their differences in height. “Thank you,” she says, not for the first time. And it’s not lost any meaning since then. “Anything– Any way I can help them. I’ll do it.” She withdraws then, giving the conversation some space from her, without making herself inaccessible entirely, curling herself against her partner, because she’s in need of comfort too.

Harry carries neither surprise nor expectation for Faulkner's reply of who he's here today, but he at least neutrally acknowledges it– which is more than he does for Tower's excusing herself. "There's another young girl, Jacelyn Childs, who's here," he explains of himself. He's deluding himself there aren't other reasons for Ourania's being here, but neither has he had his perceived reality challenged yet to know any better.

Of course he knows she's there to help because of her bleeding heart for these people, but he hasn't put it together yet she might be there to comfort anyone outside of those expressly close to them.

Her form nestled against him once more, he turns his head to press a kiss to top of hers. He's decided, too, that she needs comfort. "I'm going to go get you something warm to drink." Clearly, this is the most chivalrous thing he can do here. He lifts his head to look back to Faulkner, a little pointedly. "And a hot chocolate for the girl, if there's any to be found?"

Ourania's signed him up for one kind of support, Harry's pushing him toward another, then.

That events such as these pull strangers and neighbors together speaks something of the human condition. Tower holds onto that, if nothing more. It's that feeling which makes sure she will press a thumb down a bit harder on the matter of patient visitors, doing what she can.

Tower hesitates on answering her call to give Finch one last smile before pressing her receiver to an ear, moving slowly away from the sitting area. Clicks of her solidly heeled shoes punctuate her voice easing from earshot, "Yea, I'm here……. Okay, fine. Who do you want?"

While the agent remains visible out in the lobby foyer between double doors, her voice, and conversation, is now behind glass, gaze periodically drifting to the inside.

"Jac. Yeah. Her mom was around earlier," Faulkner says, nodding grimly. He'd bet money she's not far away now, either, but he can't say for sure.

"It's good that she has people here for her," he adds. Because having no one care enough to even show up when you're in the hospital is just about the only thing worse than ending up in the hospital in the first place.

At Harry's suggestion, Isaac glances to the girl in the yellow jacket, who looks more and more like she's getting overwhelmed; it occurs to him that Harry has probably got the right idea. "Hey. Uh, miss. I think I'm going to head down and grab some hot chocolate. Do you want one?" He considers for a moment more. "Or… do you want to come with?" he asks, giving a nonchalant shrug.

After Ourania's voice draws Finch's attention upward again, she nods. Slowly, but resolutely, clinging both to her own arms and onto all of the trust she's able to gather for a near stranger. Okay.

Mention of Jac does little to calm her nerves, however, her eyes going wide again just in time for her to aim them at Faulkner. "Yes, please, that would be nice." She rises almost immediately, the bounciness of which suggests she's still got way too much energy after her last walks, and adds, "My name's Finch."

She turns to Ourania and Harry one more time, pleading gently, "Are you gonna stay? Can you– can you send him–" she points at Faulkner before managing to conjure up the name she heard earlier. "Isaac - can you send him a message if they let us through?"

“Oh, good,” Ourania says to the knowledge that Gillian’s been here for Jac. It’s not a surprise, because a mother should want to be there, but it’s still a relief to hear it out loud and have it confirmed anyway. The list of people that would show up for her, she believes, is a slim one. It’s good to see others avoiding that same loneliness. It’s why she’s here.

Placing a kiss on Harry’s cheek, Ourania nods her head. “Coffee or hot chocolate would be wonderful. I trust your judgement.” Hospital coffee can, she’s been told, be hit or miss. “You three go on and get something.” Disengaging from the comforting embrace of her fiancé, she gives the group a nod. “I have Isaac’s number. I’ll be sure I message both him and Harry once I hear anything.” Her blue eyes shift to the doorway and the woman behind the glass on her cell phone.

Who do you want?

The faint narrow of suspicion is gone by the time Ourania turns back to the others with a smile that doesn’t touch her eyes. “I’ll wait here for any word.”

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