Bad to worse (JPX2)



Things had been getting incrementally worse with each passing day. Early along, Meryn reasoned the changes away, explaining them (to herself) as mere data scatter. However, as the time that her daily medication helped continued to dwindle, and the agony of misfiring neurons continued to grow, she could tell that she was trouble: trouble that was growing in size and strength.

Her skin felt frozen while it burned, damaged synapses sending signals to the brain that paid no heed to reality, even as her motor neurons sent random signals that she could only partially account for. As a result, she was very close to losing personal autonomy.

The trip to the bathroom was replete with challenges, most of them self-imposed. She could usually rely on tables and walls for needed support, yet was limited by the unpredictability in her own muscles. Despite the care with which she shuffled her feet, unpredictability in what her limbs would actually do, her mental directions notwithstanding, had reduced her elegant gait to a herky-jerk.

Almost falling on her face, Meryn somehow convinced her arm to hug the pillar at the corner of the sonic shower to keep afoot. Nevertheless, her legs buckled, dropping her backside onto the deck with a thud that seemed to shake the baby free in her belly, along with her other organs. Quivering and quaking, she soon found that she couldn't muster enough coordinated effort to get back onto her feet.

Wiping her face with her free hand, she saw that it came away with blood, yet she didn't know the source. She believed it to be from her nose, as the ache in her forehead felt more like the erroneous stimuli of an aggravated and compromised central nervous system. Fortunately, she didn't need to despair, as she could hear the door to quarters hiss open, admitting Neil into the front room.

Various scenarios of how he would deal with Shaw were running through Neil's head as he made his way to his shared quarters with Meryn for lunch. The thought brought a smile to his face even as it flared a small frisson of worry. She'd been wearing down more quickly; not that she would admit it out loud, of course. Whether Meryn thought she was protecting him, or simply in denial, Neil couldn't say for sure but the end result was that she was struggling and he was at a loss of how to help her. At least you're back on the Hiro. While medical facilities on Earth were excellent, there was some sense of home to the medbay here. He was familiar with the staff, and they knew the details of Meryn's condition. "Babe, you in here?" She wasn't up yet, as the front room was empty, and Neil made his way further back, checking the bedroom. "Meryn?" A low groan from the bathroom pulled him that direction and soon Neil was dropping to his knees at Meryn's side. Blood dripped from a cut along her brow, but a quick inspection showed it to be shallow at the worst. However, she was trembling from head to toe and obviously in pain. "How long," Neil murmured, cradling her against him so Meryn didn't have to try and support her weight.

It took effort to stabilize her head to keep her eyes steady on him. "Not... not long." Otherwise, she'd have called for help, she liked to think. The sad part was that she was becoming a constant bother, with fewer bright spots along the way for him. That was a sure-fire way to be left behind, she knew; after all, her father had left for far less, and there were promises in that case. "I just..." She was at a loss for words. Treatments used to keep her almost right as rain until somewhere in the mid-to-late afternoon, yet were fading somewhere close to lunchtime. "I didn't even," she began, before trailing off to add, "make lunch..."

Neil snorted, even as he gathered her up and carried Meryn into the bedroom, settling her onto the bed. “Lunch is the last thing on my mind right now. I’ll replicate something if I have to, but what I’m concerned with is whether or not to call for medical to come here, or take you directly to sickbay myself.” He pushed a lock of hair away from her brow, grimacing as drying blood clung stubbornly to the strands. “I don’t like seeing you like this … what if you’d been seriously hurt, or the baby for that matter?” For all he knew, there could be damage from her fall that he wasn’t seeing. “I worry about both of you.”

"I know," she admitted, hating the fact that she had to agree. Maybe he didn't resent it yet, but she doubted that he'd remain happy indefinitely, yet was stuck. Regardless, her plan to put off the trip to medical for a day or so was no longer feasible, so she fretted at the clumped strands of her hair, which probably weren't as bad as she fancied them to be. "Yes... Sickbay," she absently said aloud, mustering the energy, before remembering to tell him, "I'm sorry. About this, I mean." It wasn't the fun roll in the hay that he'd signed up for, to be sure!

“You have nothing to be apologizing about,” Neil insisted, even as he scooped her back up. “Just focus on you right now; remember the breathing techniques the therapist on Earth showed you? To help with the pain?” While he was pretty sure she knew, trauma could make a person forget the easy things.

Nodding amid the shakes, she did like the fact that she could relax a bit. Neil bore some of the load, freeing her to stop trying so hard to make her body comply with her wishes. "Sickbay, then," she gasped. The running theory was that the trip to the Hiroshima had taken a toll, and that rest would surely take care of that. In fact, Meryn had wished that to be the case, as the alternative was a bitter pill to swallow. Now, however, she felt obligated to accept the realities of the situation: her condition was degrading and had possibly become dangerous to her, and, by extension, her baby.

Securing his hold on Meryn, Neil noted that she was not nearly as heavy as she should be. It wouldn't be a challenge carrying her from their quarters to sickbay, but all the same he mapped the course just to confirm that the distance on foot would not be too much for her to handle before setting out. "I meant to tell you," he offered, talking to take both their minds off current events for the time being. "I've already had to chew out my replacement. Department's working their ass off to keep things in order and Mr. 'look at me, I'm in charge' turns the office into his own pig sty."

"Nobody could ever replace you," Meryn sighed, although she knew what he meant. Neil would surely straighten him out, although... "Why did Jenny? I mean. How?" Her thoughts were hazy, but she wanted to know how Jenny, who was a hard person to work for, would allow any such thing.

"Temporary," Neil assured her. "The guy who was supposed to fill in for me while we were on Earth. As for Jenny, she's been dealing with some PTSD according to Drew. Having a rough time of it, too. While he was keeping things up and running, Ensign Power Trip thought it was a good time to flex his supposed muscles and take up space not accredited to him." To hear Drew tell it, al Khalid had been the one to navigate Jenny toward counseling while Drew managed things on the Flight deck. That should have left Shaw with an easy job of maintaining the bridge and coordinating admin work, but apparently even that was out of his mental capacity.

Normally, Meryn Kell would be very concerned for her friend, and lament being unable to support her, but was unable to muster any of that. Her focus had to be on herself, her baby, and Neil, leaving very little else. "H-he had better watch his..." She squinted, trying to remember the line. "Behind him," she concluded, but that wasn't quite right. "The number thing from the Terran clock. Jenny says it all the time."

Neil snorted as he maneuvered down the passage, careful not to jar Meryn as best possible and keep to the middle of the road, so to say. "His six is already on my radar, though I doubt he knows it." He wasn't sure if the lapses were pain induced or not; most likely were. "Not to mention most of the department if he steps out of line again."j

"That's," she began, before almost forgetting what she was going to say. "That's my man." At least, she thought of him as hers. What he thought was neither here nor there, or so she hoped.

Neil smiled down at her, resting his brow against Meryn's for a moment. "Yours and only yours," he offered. "Just hold on for me, Meryn - we're just about there." She was getting slower, her speech more slurred ... It had to be just the effects of the pain wearing on her.

OFF: *this was supposed to go in before the other; I jumped the gun*

Joint Post

Graves and Kell by Tara and Bri

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