Negative Space Ch. 09by_bloom_©
An hour before dawn, I saw my last patient and collapsed on an exam table.
"Sleepy?" Elliott asked, chuckling as he cleaned the countertops and put away medications.
"It's easy for you to make fun, buster, but we humans have to work for our energy! No easy supernatural abilities to keep us going. Sheesh. I love my job, I'll say that over and over again, but somewhere in between that scuffle with the older guy about prices for my services and the 27th patient, I honestly thought the night would never end."
Elliott laughed outright. "What was his problem?"
"Oh, he just thought that since I was backed by the Prince it would be some sort of government handout. I told him the mistake was understandable, and sent him on his way with a bill only for the materials he used. No use in trying to force him to pay for my services as well."
"Oh gosh, I almost throttled him!" Sandra shouted from the front room. I listened as her footsteps came into the exam room, lifting my head to see her lingering in the doorway.
"Oh Sandra, you are my savior. I cannot believe how incredibly polite and composed you stayed ALL night! Thank you so much."
"Only doing my job, boss." I let my head fall back on the table and turned to see Elliott just finishing mopping up. "And Elliott, my darling Nurse Elliott. Thank YOU! You were phenomenal. There when I needed you, out taking care of others when I didn't—I have rarely worked with better nurses."
"You flatter, my lady," Elliott smirked, but I could tell he was pleased. Although the table was feeling more and more comfortable, I realized I had to get up and keep working. I'd put off my research for too long, and there was a woman in desperate need of a cure somewhere in the city. I heaved my body up from the table and nearly fell off it. Sandra grabbed my arm and steadied me, but I realized that I hadn't eaten in nearly 8 hours, and it was certainly taking its toll on me.
"I'm going to order some Chinese food, either of you—" I broke off, laughing. "Of course you don't want any. Sheesh. Sometimes I completely forget that you monsters suck human blood."
"And if you don't watch your tone, you juicy human, we'll suck yours!" Elliott joked, handing me my cell phone from the pocket of my white coat that I had slung over the back of the chair. I called the restaurant and ordered my dinner. I was exhausted, but I would do anything rather than think about the mess I was in. If I was honest with myself, I was seriously scared of Theo and his Sire. Although there was something about Theo that attracted me intrinsically, I was always just a little nervous around him. He was so... self-assured of his royalty. That must have been it. I had certainly never dated a royal before, but I could tell that he simply assumed many things that I never would have.
After the food was delivered and Elliott and Sandra headed home, I sat in the waiting room to watch the sun rise. As the glow of the morning began to leak up from the cracks between the sky scrapers, I pulled two of the arm chairs to face each other and sat back with my feet up, my dinner on my lap, and my notebook beside me. It was lonely, watching the grey-gold light spreading over the city, knowing that everyone I had ever known in my old life thought I was dead, and everyone from my new life had their own families, friends, and lives to go home to. I was floating between worlds, and desperately lonely for someone to hold onto to anchor me. I could go back to Theo, I thought, but was the argument worth a warm body to sleep next to? I sighed. I just didn't have the guts for it that night, but maybe soon.
The room was still half dark when I woke up to the cramp in my neck, completely turned around. After a few minutes of my mind remaining startlingly blank, I noticed that the room I was sitting in was steadily getting darker. I stood up to turn the lights on and empty take-out cartons clattered to the floor. Ooooh....I had fallen asleep in my seat before I got a chance to get any work done. I massaged the hard knot at the base of my skull, but it did little to ease the sinking feeling of having missed an opportunity to get important work done. I checked the clock—it was coming on 9pm, and the doors were about to open.
Shit, I thought. I'm a mess—I'm even still wearing the same clothing! Quickly I picked up the cartons and napkins and threw them away with one hand while I undid my blouse with the other. I rushed along, pulling it off as I went down the hallway, starting to undo my belt buckle and pants as I opened up the door to the back bathroom. I had insisted to Theo that there be a full bathroom with bath and shower, even though he thought it was absolutely ridiculous. Still, I knew that besides the times that I stayed late or arrived early needing a shower, there would also be instances when sick people would need to be dumped in a cold bath or clean their bodies. I left my clothing in a pile on the closed toilet lid, and turned on the water. As I waited for it to get warm, I glanced into the mirror. My mascara was smeared, and my skin looked clammy and dull. My hair was curling in wisps by my temples, and the green of my eyes had folded into a sluggish grey. The two little puncture scars at my neck were fainter than the day before, and I was slightly relieved and slightly unnerved. Would I be attacked when Theo's mark completely vanished? Curls of steam wound their way through my legs as I fought to pull the hair band out of my knotted bun. The water was hot and soothing as I clambered into the shower, tilting my head back to soak my hair.
It was so good to get wet. The slickness of the soap on my skin made me loathe to wash it off, and I let my hands take extra circles around my nipples and stomach, gliding lower and lower. There was very little time before everyone arrived, but maybe I could touch myself just a little bit? I let my fingers drop lower, and they slid over my puffy lips, suddenly slippery in a new way. I dipped a finger into my hot pussy, and I gasped. It may not have been that long since I'd had sex, but I was aching already, missing the feeling of someone inside me. Just thinking about it made me hotter, and my breathing began to deepen as I circled my clit with one finger, just gently teasing it. With a finger tip on either side of it I began to stroke my clit, bringing my playing to a distinctly more serious level. I leaned back against the shower wall, toying with my nipples with one hand while I plunged my fingers into my cunt with the other hand. Oh god, the sensations were coming stronger and stronger, and unbidden I saw an image of Elliott fucking me with abandon—I gasped and stopped for a moment. What? I shook it from my head, allowing myself to just dwell on the feelings, but suddenly the bathroom door opened, and a body slipped through.
"Who's there?!" I called, grasping the shower curtain to cover myself. I looked around and saw Elliott, chuckling.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's just that you're practically shouting!"
"What? Elliott, this is highly inappropriate. Get out of the bathroom." He didn't seem to be moving, so I glared. "Now!" I growled, and I pushed on him with my mind the way I did to both Theo and his sire. Elliott cried out and I pulled back, slamming the curtain shut. The door slammed, and when I closed my eyes I could feel Elliott's fury and pain as he stormed through the hallway. With a deep calming breath that I could feel in my abdomen, I rinsed off the soap and got out of the shower. I let all the adrenaline leave my body as I wrapped my hair in the towel and put my clothing back on. Out in the waiting room I found him with his head hung between his knees, almost hyperventilating.
"Elliott, what's wrong? What are you doing?" I sat down beside him, my anger vanishing, but as I touched his back he shrunk away from me.
"What did you do to me?" he gasped, rocking back and forth, his head cradled between his hands. When it became clear he was in so much pain that he wouldn't say anything more, I became desperate. I couldn't treat him if he wouldn't tell me what was wrong—I stopped, realizing that maybe I could use the same technique to heal him that I had used to hurt him. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and let my mind search for his. I felt a sort of thickness that I knew was his consciousness, and he gasped, and gagged, retching on the floor. I pulled back sharply, and tried to find a softer way to enter his mind. I imagined his mind as a semi-solid conglomeration of a clay-like substance and many small odds and ends in a box. I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it felt like, so I just let it sit there in front of me, and I looked for the injured part without touching. There was something to the side that seemed to be almost bruised or bloody—as much as clay could bleed. There was a cloud of concentration over it, and I blew lightly at it to disperse it, causing Elliott to wince and whimper.
I took a closer look, and saw that in my surprise and anger, I must have pushed harder than I ever had, essentially punching his consciousness and wounding it. I knew that to touch it would cause Elliott such pain he would throw up again, so I held it in my thoughts, and tried to pull back on it with my mind. Elliott screamed, and I stopped. Another deep breath. Nice and slowly, I told myself. I can do this. What would I do if this were a physical injury? I would want to place a soothing salve on it, something to cool it down and help it begin to heal. Okay, so what did I have to do that ephemerally? I remembered the golden strings and clouds of magic that shimmered between and around vampires and the things they were affecting. Maybe I could use something like that? There were no other vampires around I could pull from, though, so I looked to myself. I suddenly saw hundreds of strings flying out from my core, some through the walls, some out the windows, and many connecting me directly with Elliott. The base of the strings looked like someone had pinched off a piece of the sun, and it was burning molten hot below the hollow between my breasts.
I focused on a small piece of the glowing and carried it out in front of me. With another deep, slow breath I steadied myself and moved as slowly as possible into the cloud of Elliott's consciousness. I felt the small glowing ball almost pulling me towards the wound, and I held it still in my thoughts, allowing its gravitational force to move it forward in small increments. When it finally touched the wound Elliott's whole body spasmed, then went still. The breath he had been holding let out, and his muscles all began to relax. I snapped my eyes open just in time to see him about to fall, unconscious, into his own vomit. I caught him and heaved his body up, dragging him to one of the exam tables to lay him down. I could still see the golden strings that connected us, and I followed one, listening to what I could of his emotional state. He was so soothed, it seemed, that he had simply fallen asleep, the stress of his experience taking such a toll that he could no longer remain alert. I pulled up the side rails and covered him with a blanket.
As I was pinching the bridge of my nose to soothe the overwhelming headache that just came on, the door opened. I jumped, nervous for anyone to find us like this, but noticed that one of my golden threads was burning brighter. I followed it out to the person in the hallway, and felt the soothing presence of Sandra. I calmed my nerves and she came in, confused and worried.
"Lana, what's going on? You feel like you've just run from an assassin! Are you alright?"
"I just—I don't know what happened. I was so scared," I started, and broke off in a sob as I tried to tell her. I didn't know why, but suddenly it was so real and overwhelming. I had finally done something to actually hurt someone I cared about, and I felt awful. The look of hatred he had given me was burned into my mind and I didn't know what to do about it. As I sobbed Sandra managed to pick the story out of my cries and wrapped me in her arms. Finally I quieted.
"Well, he's fine now, isn't he?" she asked, and I nodded.
"I don't know if he'll ever forgive me, though. And what if I accidentally do this to someone else? I seem to have some sort of massive control over the people connected to me, and I don't even know what it is!"
"Well clearly this is something we need to deal with. We should find you a teacher. You're an amazing healer already, and just imagine what you could do if you trained your power? Come on, now, Lana. We've got to get you pulled together so we can open the clinic. Why don't you go clean yourself up, I'll clean up the lobby, and we can start taking patients."
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. I can pull it together. I just—"
"No. We can deal with this later. Now you have to hold it together."
"Right. Right." I wiped my eyes and took a deep breath. What a relief to have someone like Sandra around. Usually I could hold myself together pretty well, but those moments that I lost it always felt like the end of the world. Sandra pushed me out of the room and closed the door behind us. I took another haggard breath and went into the office to set up. Within minutes the first patients were walking in, and I pushed the whole event from my mind. It only came back when I would reach for something that Elliott would have had ready for me and find I had to do it myself. Each time I felt the gutting sensation of guilt sink through me. After that sinking feeling nearly made me mess up an injection, though, I stopped myself, pushing it away. I knew how to do this—after years in medical school and slaving through residencies I knew how to bind off my emotions, tucking them away for later. Now was the time to focus, make diagnoses, offer treatment plans, and most simply, make vampires feel better.
I took a break at around 3 am when the crowd slightly calmed, and went to check in on Elliott. His eyes fluttered as I stood over him, the eyelashes a gentle decoration to his dark, worn skin. I touched his temple and he sighed, pressing his eyelids closer together, and moving to roll over on the table. My hand slipped along his cheek bones and down to his lips. I pulled his bottom lip down, and gazed at his fangs. They hung out carelessly and I shivered as his warm breath spilled over my hand. I pulled away quickly when I realized that he was awake and watching me. In a moment of silence tears started to come to my eyes as I tried to figure out what I would say.
"Elliott, I'm so sorry. I did not mean to hurt you. I was just so scared—are you alright?"
Elliott was quiet, but he smiled. "I've never felt such excruciating pain, but I suppose I have you to thank as well for the unbelievable relief I got when the pain went away." He chuckled slightly and I blinked furiously, trying not to cry.
"I've never hurt anyone like that in my life. I promise I'll never do that to you again. I'm going to try to find someone to help me figure this stuff out, and I'll master this crazy business. Honest."
Elliott raised his hand to mine and held it against his cheek. He smiled and nodded. "I can tell. It was horrifying, but I know that you didn't mean it. I shouldn't have scared you like that." He tried to sit up and moaned.
"What's up? Does your head still hurt? Are you okay? What do you need?" I moved to help him, but he just laid his head back on the pillow.
"Don't worry about it, Lana. It's just a little quick for me to get back up. I'll be back up in no time. I'm just going to rest a moment longer."
I nodded and moved my hands to his forehead, smoothing the wrinkles out and massaging down to his temples, cheekbones, and chin. He relaxed and his eyes closed. Within moments he was sleeping again, and I left the room quietly. As I walked into the lobby I immediately knew something was wrong.
There was a man standing, urgently speaking in low tones to Sandra, whose face was polite but cold. The other vampires in the room were standing back away from him in what clearly looked to be defense positions. Sandra was coolly shaking her head as I came up, saying, "I'm sorry sir, but we only serve vampires here."
I looked back and forth between the two, and stepped in, offering the man my hand. "Hello, my name is Dr. Crane. May I help you?"
"Yes, thank you." He said, struggling to pull his eyes away from Sandra, his voice low and gravelly. "I would like an appointment for my mate. I am certain she is dying."
I could not figure out why this would be a problem, but I decided to test the situation. I felt out to him in the way that I had been practicing all morning to see what his energy felt like, and found that he felt very different than the vampires, and very different than the humans. I couldn't tell what he was, though, so I decided I would just ask. Too much quietness and speculation would make this overly difficult and cause more drama than was necessary.
"I'm so glad you could make it here, Mr.—? "
"Lobovic. Felix Lobovic."
"Well, Mr. Lobovic, if you would be so kind as to explain to me what is going on, I'll be able to assess the situation and let you know whether or not I can serve you. Please step into my office, and I'll be there in one moment." I showed him to the door, and shut it behind him. Sandra was immediately next to me.
"Lana, that's a werewolf! You can't leave him in there—for all you know he could be a spy, here to steal information on vampire weaknesses!"
"Whoa, Sandra, wait. A werewolf?" I looked at her incredulously, but her face betrayed no amusement.
"You think vampires are the only ones? Of course not. There are all sorts of non-human entities. And weres are the worst! They do nothing but kill, fuck, and attack vampires."
I was shocked to hear Sandra talking in this way, but it gave me a sense of the strangeness and urgency of this man showing up here. I nodded.
"Thank you, Sandra. I'll talk to him and figure out why he's here."
She looked wary, but I stepped into the office and saw him sitting awkwardly and nervously in the chair facing my desk. He looked up immediately.
"Doctor, I know what the vampires must think about me being here—"
I cut him off, shaking my head and speaking sternly. "I'm not interested in sides. Here I work as a healthcare provider, and so if you'd like my help for something I can help with, I will absolutely give it to you. If this has anything to do with vampire/werewolf violence, you can see yourself out immediately."
He nodded. "My mate is sick. She has been bedridden for a week now. Normally I'd just let it go, see what I could do to make her comfortable, but I honestly think she's dying. She can't keep anything down, she can't get herself out of bed. She's never been this sick. No one in the pack has."
I took a moment to scribble down the last of the notes I was taking on his story, and looked him squarely in the eyes. He seemed innocent, but I knew and trusted Sandra with every facet of my consciousness. Why would she speak so poorly of someone who was really just here to find a little healthcare? I decided to keep both of their opinions in store while deciding what to do. I couldn't trust the weres completely, but I also couldn't assume that the vampires' prejudice was the truth about weres.
"Okay, Mr. Lobovic. I'm going to do a housecall to visit your mate, but I'll be bringing vampires to ensure my safety. This is non-negotiable. Is this acceptable to you?"
"Yes ma'am. I will make sure that the pack knows what is happening for everyone's safety. When will you arrive?"
"I will be able to arrive this early morning at around 3:30 AM. Can you give the information to Sandra, my secretary?"
"Yes, I will. That would be amazing if you came. I'm just so worried about her—" he began to make the face I had seen so many times on widowers, and I closed my eyes and held up my hand.