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18 April 2007 @ 04:20 pm
Hospital visit.  
Cast: Victor Hugo, Chrissy Rossetti
Rating: PG-13 but more for what's talked about than what actually happens.
Time: Friday 6 April— yeah, a while ago. The day right before Emily's disappearance.
Summary: Responding to the message Chrissy left him, Victor gets to the hospital in Boston and finds out about three of the worst things she could possibly be dealing with right now: a family tragedy, a health problem, and something that's oddly a mixture of both.

Christina is half asleep. In-betweens, just like she and John have always planned for, but he's gone. He must have gone somewhere for Spring Break and not told her— but of course, he didn't know where she was. She'd disappeared into the night like a pressed flower inside a book, between sheets of paper, stuck on a shelf. She stirs. They've given her medicine, of course, to calm her down— her brain, her heart. But not too much.

She breathes slowly, and smiles. So she still can. That's good to know. She turns on her side in the hospital bed to stare out the bare window, at the stark branches illuminated by the streetlight outside. It's late and outside, it is cold. And Victor will be here soon. She has to stay awake for Victor.

Without having "Rossetti" anywhere in his name, it's been a little difficult for Victor to gain access to this area of the building at this time of night, but after having made use of just about every conversational tactic in his repertoire and then finally being informed by one nurse that he has, in fact, been expected, he's walking down the corridor to the right room. His eyes are bleary, still sleepy despite the drive, but he feels full of nervous, shaking energy as he knocks on the door.

Christina, for her part, is calm as a martyr, pale. She sits up, and says softly, "Come in, Victor." It's hardly more than a whisper, but it falls deep in her throat and carries.

Whatever's wrong, it's clear that constant monitoring isn't needed, as Victor sees she's on her own, but nonetheless, he also sees that something's shaken her; if her phone message weren't enough, he would know something is still very wrong. "Didn't know you to go partying on Friday nights in Boston," he says, a gentle joke, but quickly he comes over to the bed. "What is it, Chrissy?"

She takes his hand, swiftly, as if it is the only thing to do; it's there and he's brought it with him, that hand, and it's strength for her to hold. She closes her eyes for a moment at the contact, pleased with it, and then says softly, "My mother died."

"Oh my god." Bowing his head, Victor looks at the cold, moonlit linoleum and takes a heavy breath. Then he looks up. "I'm so unbelievably sorry. I..." When are there ever appropriate things to say, for these moments? "What happened? Can you tell me?"

"I— I'm still not sure." The stutter belies her; this is calm, collected Chrissy, but the vagueness lurks just below the surface like an oil slick waiting to rise. "Gabriel went home, but when I heard, I— my heart." She touches her chest softly with her free hand. It's information, not emotion; she is telling Victor the facts. Cold and hard. She will not weep.

Her heart. Hospital— heart. Is her heart weak?... A murmur?... He realizes that he doesn't know this kind of thing, and the name Gabriel sounds oddly familiar, in that panicking way, which he has to force to the back of his mind. Victor squeezes her hand and asks, "Something happened with your heart?"

"It's all wrong," she murmurs, almost with an understanding. She sees the blankness in his eyes and feels his hand tighten, and it frightens her a little. "Bum ticker, that's what Mom always said. Ever since I was little. Eat like a horse but never gain an ounce, can't scare Chrissy or her heart will Johnny-jump-up." She takes Victor's hand, pressing his fingertips lightly to her breastbone— too thin and sharp. "But it scared me. And Gabriel, he brought me here and then he had to leave and go home to take care of it all."

Victor can't touch her right there for too long. Multiple causes draw his hand back after just a few seconds. Still, he stays close to her. "God, Chrissy, then I'm glad you're okay for now. I guess... I just— so much has happened for you suddenly, and you wanted me of all people? There must be something I can do, then."

She looks at him for a long moment. Her eyes are soft and quiet in the half-dark, too luminous— always too luminous. "You're a comfort to me," she says, and the words ring out in their quiet honesty. "And I trust you. Victor..." She turns her face away, for the first time restless, uncertain of her words. She keeps her grip on his hand, though it is light. "It was only that I couldn't find John, and Gabriel— he was gone, and for George to know, it's... it's not good for George to know why..."

"Well, it sounds to me like it's not good for him to know a lot of things... I don't know. If you just need me to stay here tonight, I can. I can take you home tomorrow afternoon; I have no commitments this weekend till tomorrow evening."

"You are always so formal," says Christina, softly teasing, tugging at his fingers. "Never take time to play games, popular boy too old for his age." Her face hardens for a moment, and she murmurs, "All too old to be ourselves. Feel." She drops his fingers to her stomach, just the tips again.

What she means for him to sense there, he's not sure, and the uncertainty is evident in his pensive gaze. Her words sink deep, not hurtfully, but sadly. There definitely was a time when Victor was simply a playful, popular kid. It was before he stopped school in DC. Before Eupheme.

A frown crosses her features, brief, fleeting. "No," she says, "no, of course, not yet. Not for a while yet." She watches him, stroking his hand lightly; the gesture is disturbing and absent, as if she has forgotten that he will feel what she is doing. She takes his hand away and says, "Do you know names, Victor? I need a good one. Strong."

He's probably just thinking too fast, jumping to conclusions because everything else has gone so wrong, why couldn't it be... She'll laugh, at least. She'll laugh and then say what it really is. Victor fully expects to be told he's incorrect when he wonders, "Chrissy, are you saying you're... pregnant?"

"George can't know," she says, and for the first time, she sounds tearful.

The weight of the world must be on this girl's shoulders. Trouble comes in threes. Not paralyzed, but still stiff with sheer surprise and worry, it takes him a moment to move. Then Victor puts his arms around her, sitting on the edge of the bed and holding her close. "I don't know what to say. I'll never know what this could be like. But I'm so sorry."

"Word formulas," says Christina, her mouth buried against his shirt. "What everyone would say, but you start it, you make the link in the chain. Poor Chrissy, not a person, with a person inside. Better than being not a person at all." She taps on his chest, listening for the empty ring. "They took your soul away too."

You're a person. But Victor's been learning to pass over these statements. He can never seem to stop her from making them. "What do you want to do with it?" he murmurs. It— growing up, he'd have been corrected by his mother with the child. Not an it. This doesn't occur to him.

"Your soul?" Chrissy's giggle is silvery, but hollow. She stirs against his chest, restless, and her hair is very warm. "Keep it. It's a present I'm meant to have or I wouldn't have it, now, would I?"

Victor pulls her back from him enough to make eye contact, enough to meet that strange, distant gaze with his searching and earnest one. "If that's what you want. But Byron— George— should know then, probably, Chrissy." And then who knows what he ought to do. There's all that Byron money, if nothing else.

She shakes her head mutely, obstinate as a child, her mouth folding together in a tight, thin line. No. She thinks, sometimes, that Victor is too like a father or the big brother Gabriel ought to have been, but she doesn't want any big brother except Gabriel. Victor is her champion, something quite different. "I'll make it a family without George in it," she tells him, almost pleading for him to understand. "John will love it, and I will love it. You may love it, if you wish."

"Do you have the means?" With Gabe— who is Gabe?— away from Eupheme, and with her mother now passed away, too, Victor is trying to imagine where she might get the support. His parents have oodles of money; but how could he ask them to help pay for the child of a mother they've never met, a child who isn't his? And why would she take that charity? The world isn't as simple and generous as it ought to be.

"George promised he would always take care of me. I'm his first wife." Such childlike perfect trust, and yet she does not want him to know. Christina makes no sense at all, even to herself. Perhaps she knows that where money is concerned, Byron has no qualms. "John will take care of me. John always does..." She falters there, slightly, and puts a hand to her stomach.

Nodding, starting to feel cold as the numerous frozen truths she's told him start to be internalized in his blood, Victor says, "You should probably get some sleep, Chrissy, even just for a little bit. And then, if the doctors will let you, we'll go back to Eupheme. John's there."