2020-03-17 - Tears and Understanding


Newly hired intern Hisako and Dr. Kelsey go to visit with young Kelli, the only survivor of a brutal hound attack against her family, to try to comfort and support her.

Log Info:

Storyteller: hank-mccoy
Date: Tue Mar 17 00:00:00 2020
Location: Mt Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital - Room 11-38

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It has been a couple days since the incident at the DZ, in truth, Kelli's family was killedwhile she watchedand her arm torn of almost as an afterthought, the day before. The girl is in critical care, though her condition has finally been listed as stable. It took most of the day, but Roni and Hisako were cleared for visitation.

The room is kept lit brightly, she can't stand the dark anymore, her panic attacks so acute they had to literally sedate the little girl.

At the moment she's sort of listlessly watching Power Puff Girls on the TV, remote sort of covered, but not held in her remaining hand.

She's not only lost her arm, she's been pretty thoroughly battered - the thing grabbed her by the arm and /shook/, slamming her into furniture, walls, all while its sib /ate/ part of her family.

How does one recover from that?

For whatever reason, the hounds left her alive when one brave neighbor shot the female with a shotgun point blank. It didn't injure, but man…loud and it hurt, so the pups—really, fled.

Veronica arrived hours ago, and has spent that time in consultation with the girl's doctors already on her case. Her lawyer has spent that time in consultation with the hospital administration, and they are feeling both grateful and a bit browbeaten at this point.

Most interesting of all was Veronica getting time with Children and Family Services. Legally they have become the girl's guardians, and they take that responsibility seriously. They were not nearly as sanguine to the idea of the corporation stepping in to pay all of the bills and turn one of their charges into a test case. But when the woman who owns half the company shows up in a wheelchair, and proceeds to explain her own ravaged history, they backed own. They accepted this was an attempt at charity and care of a fellow human being, not corporate exploitation.

Only then were Roni and Hisako able to get cleared for this visit. "You really ready for this? You can wait and let me go first, if you want." Roni asks her intern. But regardless, Veronica is going in. This girl, this ravaged waif, needs human contact. Nothing is going to make this horror go away. But only human contact is going to give her anything upon which to build a latticework for the rest of her life.

How *do* you open a conversation with a still freshly-traumatized orphan, anyway?

Hisako was all set to head to the hospital the same day as the meeting, but she wasn't in enough of a hurry to disregard the hospital saying 'no' or 'she's not ready for visitors'. And in the meantime, she's had classes at the Institute, her internship at RESCUE as a whole, and in between, figuring out how best to approach Kelli when the time comes.

Which it now has.

"I'm as ready as I will be," Hisako replies. "I've … been through my own horrors, although nothing as bad as Kelli - or yourself. But I wanted to reach out to her on my own initiative; I'm not going to back down now."

Hisako comes to a halt outside Kelli's door, holding a small bouquet of flowers - rather like the bouquets she brought for Hank and Domino, but comprised in this case of edelweiss, hibiscus, and peony. Maybe a vase would have been in order, but Hisako's trying to be optimistic. The Japanese girl simply stands there for the time being, gently watching Kelli; if the young girl doesn't notice her, Hisako raps lightly on the doorframe when the commercial break starts.

The knock at the door is ignored at first, or…no, Kelli looks over after about a minute, and brown eyes look without interest to it. Her black hair is clean, but tousled, and then she turns away again. Still, she's semi-responsive. Her face is mottled with bruising, they're at the stage where they've got purple centers surrounded by green and yellow.

Mojo Jojo comes back on the screen and the girl's eyes reflect the display.

The room itself is well appointed, Mt Sinai Kravis a very well funded hospital, and the nearest that could take her. Had RESCUE not fought so hard to help they were probably going to relocate her once she was stable enough, but not anymore.

One of the nurses on duty approaches. "Doctor Kelsey, Miss Ichiki, she's been very incommunicative…" The woman is older, in her fifties, and she's clearly been doing this a while. "…she did seem to like music, though. I saw her fingers tapping when an orderly playing some swing big band music on his iPod was cleaning." And then she looks up as a light over another door goes on. "Excuse me." She says, moving to answer the call light. Ironically, her nametag reads Ronnie Kelly, RN.

Veronica listens to the nurse, taking it all in. That fits with the doctor's assessments as well. She looks to Hisako again, and then taps a few buttons on her tablet, which starts a random shuffle of 'big band swing' music. Not her cup of tea, but so be it. "Let's give it a shot." she murmurs to Hisako, and then she pushes open the door and rolls in, letting Hisako follow

Dressed in her labcoat, with stethoscope, Roni is likely to be dismissed as 'just another doctor' except for the fact she's in the chair. She doesn't speak at first, but just rolls in to glance at the readouts and check the chart. She's letting Hisako take the first stab at direct interaction.

Maybe Hisako knows what that stuff is on the teleivision?

"Hello, Kelli," Hisako greets the young girl, offering a gentle smile as she steps into the room - behind Dr. Kelsey, deferring to the head of RESCUE. "We heard about what happened to your family. I'm sorry for your loss."

She lays the bouquet on the bedside table where Kelli can see it - or, if the withdrawn young girl chooses to bestir herself, she can reach out to pick it up for closer inspection. Then Hisako glances towards the TV. "Powerpuff Girls? I saw some of this after I came to the United States," she observes. "Did you choose this show, or did the nurses turn this on for you?"

The music draws Kelli's gaze from the screen, she watches the Doctor a moment, and yes, her fingers tap in tune with whatever song is playing. Listless eyes seem to be a little more focused. When Hisako greets her, she turns that gaze to the Japanese girl. "I like Mojo Jojo." She says in a wan voice. "The Doctors said I was gonna move, they don't think I listen, but I do." She observes quietly.

After a moment she sighs a little bit. "I like Mojo Jojo." She repeats. "The Nurse with the blue eyes turned it on for me. Found it."

And then to Roni. "Are you going to take me away?"

Directly addressed, Veronica rolls up to the side of the girl's bed and meets her eyes very directly through her smartglasses. Then she reaches up and rests her hand gently on Kelli's far cheek, making their connection not just visual but tangible and real. She remembers the shock, the numbness after her own accident. Then she shakes her head, once, firmly.

"No, Kelli. We are not here to move you. We are here to help." Sure. Right. Like doctors can help the hole in her soul? But Roni continues. "My name is Dr. Veronica Kelsey. But my friends call me Roni." She gestures towards the younger woman with her. "This is Hisako Ichiki. Hisako and I are with a company called RESCUE. My company."

Roni turns back, making deep eye connection again. "I won't bore you with what RESCUE means. Instead … let me show you what it can meant to you." And Veronica lifts her tablet up, switching from chart view to a video demonstration she assembled of Kelli … with her new cyberarm, even as it is put through its paces. All of the advances made on Ava's gear and a dozen more into perhaps the most lifelike and 'real' cyberlimb ever developed. She puts the tablet in Kelli's lap, and then rolls back from the bed, letting Hisako talk.

Yet even as the younger woman is talking, Veronica is adjusting something. Changing velcro straps. Preparing for the exoframe. Preparing to show this young woman what they can do. To make a believer out of her.

"I haven't been with RESCUE very long," Hisako admits, "but I've seen some of their work already. Dr. Kelsey's serious about wanting to help you. Replacing an arm is easy, even for a girl as young as you are - and we'd replace it as you grow up, of course. No point in leaving you stuck with a child-sized arm your whole life, right?" she asks wryly.

She glances at Dr. Kelsey, then looks at Kelli again, her expression more serious. "Also … I wanted you to know that the monsters who tore your family apart - who took your arm and your parents and siblings … we're looking for them. And we're looking for the people who *made* them. Nobody should have to endure what you've been through … we want to do what we can to help *you*, Kelli, but we're also out to make sure there are no more victims from these … whatever they really are."

Sure, the team is calling them 'Hounds,' and that's not entirely inaccurate. But that word still seems … insufficient, as far as Hisako goes. The monsters didn't even look like mammals, and seemed canine-like only in general shape and - arguably - behavior. In Hisako's book, they're monsters, and calling them 'hounds' is more noble than the beasts deserve.

Kelli listens to Roni. "Hello." Then to Hisako. "Hi." When the names are mentioned, and then she turns back to listen to what Roni is saying. A faint frown. "I'm going to be…bionic?" She asks. And then she blinks as Hisako verifies. "I still feel it…keep trying to do things with it…"

Her eyes widen a little at the mention of the monsters, and then she sighs, big tears forming and rolling down her cheeks.

"Monsters." Kelli whispers. And then lounder. "MONSTERS. They were monsters!" She's breathing quickly now, and shaking a bit, eyes closed. "Was I bad?" She asks, wondering, aching with the thought she might have done something, somehow caused the attack. It is UTTERLY irrational, but…yeah…survivor's guilt, that's a thing.

A thing no six year old should ever face.

And then Veronica's wheelchair transforms, and she stands UP! Stands up, and walks a bit clunkily forward, reaching out to touch Kelli's cheek again. No taking her hand; her hand is hers, the only one she has right now, and she has the right to decide where that goes, who gets to incapacitate with a grip if anyone. "NO, Kelli. No, you were not bad. You did nothing to deserve what happened. No one did. But there are bad people in the world. And someone … someone made those things, and set them loose with intent." And they're going to stop them.

"No," Hisako says, softly but intensely. "No, Kelli, you weren't bad, you didn't do anything wrong." She gives the little girl's shoulder a squeeze - not painful, but reassuring, trying to share her strength. "You didn't deserve what happened. *Nobody* deserves to lose their family like that, Kelli."

Hisako pauses briefly, taking a deep breath, and draws a chair closer before, if Kelli allows, squeezing her shoulder again. "Years ago, back in Japan, I was kidnapped by people who didn't care *who* I was - only *what*. They saw me as a convenient victim, someone on whom they could take out their hatred. There are many like that in the world, people who scatter seeds of fear, of pain, of terror. Dr. Kelsey and I are trying to make sure that whoever loosed those monsters can't tear apart any more families."

Taking a deep breath, Hisako pats Kelli's shoulder once before sitting up. "If you know anything that can help us find the monsters' makers, then I'd be grateful if you could tell us … but if you can't remember, or remembering is too painful, then it's okay. You've been through enough of a nightmare once."

It is really really hard not to notice when Roni's chair becomes an exo-frame and the woman /stands/. Kelli turns her brown gaze to her with eyes wide. "Are you a superhero?" She asks. When both Hisako and Roni repeat firmly and without doubts that she was not to blame, the tears flow more freely, and her shoulders slump a bit as her hand moves to mouth, stifling the sobs.

She doesn't want the monsters to hear, you see.

Hisako's experience draws her eyes to the Japanese girl. "Why do people do that? Why would anyone do that?" She looks to Roni, to Hisako, trying to understand.

Ahh, the million-dollar question. Hisako grimaces, looking down for a moment as she gathers her thoughts.

"I don't understand it either."

How else to answer but with the truth? Hisako lifts her eyes again, looking Kelli in the eye, and - rather than simply taking the little girl's hand, Hisako puts her hand palm-up where Kelli can, if she chooses, grasp it. "All I know is that some people don't know how to love those who are different from themselves. Sometimes, it's as bad as not knowing how to really love *anyone* - how to care about anyone other than oneself. And there are times when I think, if I really *did* understand how somebody can be without compassion, it would only be because I'd lost that capacity. So not being able to understand … maybe it's a good thing." She shrugs a bit.

"But there are people who *do* care, even about somebody they've never met before. And that's why we're here. Not to get anything, not to take anything … but because we care. We couldn't *not* care. We can't replace your family, but we can help you find something warm and lovely in the world."

And Veronica lets Hisako take the lead with that one. She doesn't interrupt, not one litte bit. But she smiles warmly over Hisako's shoulder; her bedside manner is impeccable.

Then, after, she clomp-clomps a bit to the side to be more visible. "Not a superhero, Kelli. But we try to help anyone in need. That's why we made our company's name spell out RESCUE." Later, she can bring up Augmenta. Not today. "But with the arm we're going to give you, help you use, you can be anything you ever want to be. Anything."

Because if she has to, Roni will make another suit. If this girl grows up to want to be a superhero, and Roni is alive? She'll make it happen.

And right there in her lap on the tablet Kelli can see what the arm will be like - SO CLOSE to her own, and far more capable than any prosthetic anyone has ever shown her. "And if you're good, we'll introduce you to the woman who helped us test that tech. She has an arm, and both legs. And an eye." A real Bionic Woman is Ava.

Kelli looks at Hisako's hand, her cheeks damp and eyes still leaking tears. She looks up at Hisako's dark eyes, so like her own, and just sighs very softly, placing her small hand into the teen's. "Promise?" She asks. "Truth?" The young girl's voice is tremulous, she so desperately wants to believe and she's utterly terrified that she'll be wrong.

She can't even close her eyes anymore without the pain…the tearing…the screams.

That she can reach out *at all* is nothing short of a miracle, and proof she's not /lost/. Not yet.

Eyes of brown focus more, and turns towards Roni as she speaks. "Okay." A nod. "I'll try."

People laud people who face danger, who shine in the face of adversity, heroes.

Courage can come in small packages too.

She sort of leans against Hisako, eyes leaking, but so quiet. She looks at the tablet, at Roni. "I'll try." She whispers.

She's silent then for a while, and then her eyes slowly close, and she /sleeps/.

Hisako nods, smiling to Kelli, her hand closing gently but securely around Kelli's smaller hand. "I promise," she says softly, affirming her words - that she wants Kelli to be able to be happy: not a smile that's pasted on or worn as a mask, but a smile that she *feels* from her heart.

She lets Kelli lean against her, slipping her other arm behind the young girl's shoulders to support her more comfortably for a bit. Only when Kelli's fallen asleep does Hisako attempt to extricate herself, to lay Kelli down and tuck her in without waking her.

And only if she succeeds at *that* much does she ask Roni, her voice just above a whisper, "Should I stay here with her?" … and if moving Kelli woke her up, Hisako wouldn't even need to ask if she should stay.

Veronica considers only briefly, and then nods. "Yes. Stay here, with her. I will talk with the doctors once more, and make sure the lawyer is done. Then we will wait, here, with her while she rests. I want to wait for the CFS rep to return and confirm everything is solidly in place before we would try to leave." And even then, they will come back, and many times.

That said, Veronica smiles down at the younger woman and the little girl, then backs up and transforms the exoframe back into her chair. Then she rolls towards the door and slips out as quietly as possible.

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