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Prudence, Chapter 53

Mark picked Kristen up and headed downstairs, to where he'd left his shoes. "Steven!" he called, as he passed his father-in-law's door.

Steven was fully dressed, his reading glasses low on his nose when he opened the door. "I'm up, son. What's wrong?" He stepped forward, reaching for Kristen's limp wrist. "What the fuck happened?"

Mark carefully transferred her to Steven's arms, then reached for his shoes. "I think Angie Sloan tried to commit suicide."

"And this has what to do with Kristen?" Steven asked, as he lay her on the couch and wrapped a blanket around her.

"She and Angie have a life-bond," Mark explained. "It's... there are problems with it. Basically, Kristen's energy is going into trying to keep Angie alive. I'll explain in the car."

"All right," Steven said tightly. "Hurry then."

Mark nodded. "I called the sheriff about Angie. Told him I had an emergency with Kris, was taking her to the hospital. We're supposed to meet him by Angie's house. If she did try it, he'll have a chopper on its way to have the two of them airlifted to the hospital."

"Good. I'll drive, you hold her."

***

She was still breathing. Mark kept checking, during the short, harrowing high-speed drive to the edge of town, and though it was slow and shallow, Kristen was still breathing.

After what seemed like hours but couldn't have been more than a few minutes, Steven pulled to a stop in front of a small house on the outskirts of town. There were two cars in the drive, one of them the police car. "Ed's car is gone," he said, frowning sharply.

"Ed's her husband?" Mark asked.

Steven nodded, yanking up the parking break. "Stay put. I'll find out what's up." He slid out the door and dashed through the heavy rain to the house. He returned in less than a minute. "Bring Kris inside where it's warmer. Copter's on its way."

Angie looked a lot like Kristen-- pale, barely breathing, unconscious. The sheriff had wrapped her in blankets and put her on the couch, a plastic bag holding at least a dozen pill bottles laying beside her. He looked up at Mark as he carried Kristen inside. "Apparently her husband left her and she swallowed half the medicine cabinet. The bottles were still on the table."

Mark fought to contain the sick terror that welled in his throat as he cradled Kristen to his chest. "Damn. Do you think we're in time?"

The sheriff shook his head. "I don't know. They'll bring a respirator on the copter. I don't know anything about medicine. Shit." He sighed. "How's your little wife?"

Mark looked down at her worriedly. "Her temperature's dropped too far. She's cold as ice. I'm worried."

"Fuck." He looked at Mark with sympathy. "Looks like it's a damned good thing the copter's on its way. They're fast. In fact..." He cocked his head, then nodded. "I hear 'em. Get the door, Steve."

The EMTs took over rapidly and efficiently, two of them getting Angie onto a stretcher and sliding a tube down her throat, the other kneeling down by Mark. "What happened, sir?"

"I don't know what's wrong," Mark said. "She won't wake up, and she's ice cold, and not breathing right."

The tech unwrapped her and felt for a pulse, then frowned and called back over his shoulder. "Heated wrap and another tube, Jeff. Hurry!" The other stretcher was brought, and Mark let them take Kristen and strap her to it, feeling sick and dizzy as he watched them slide the respirator tube down her throat.

Finally, the two women were lifted and carried out to the waiting helicopter. "Okay! We've got 'em. Everything's going to be fine. I need a parent or guardian for the younger lady."

Mark pointed. "He's her father. I'm her husband."

The man looked slightly surprised, but nodded. "Okay, then. One of you can ride with us, but that's all we've got room for. We're going to hook them to the respirators, and then we're out of here. Whoever's coming, go get on the chopper and buckle in."

Mark looked at Steven, who nodded at him. "Go on, Mark. I'll be there as fast as I can."

The stretchers were on either side of the helicopter, plastic covers protecting them from wind and rain. The pilot pointed Mark to a seat and tossed him a pair of headphones and once they were on, he could hear one of the men relaying info to the hospital as they took off. "Got one known overdose, bp 80/60, pulse 43. Labels say darvocet 450, soma 12, sonata 20. 30 count each, fairly new scrips. Other female is younger, symptoms are damned similar. Father says she didn't take anything..." He looked over at Mark questioningly.

He shook his head. "Nope. We were asleep. I woke up because of a phone call and found her like this."

The EMT nodded, and continued, "Husband also says she didn't take anything. Bp 85/55, pulse 40, her temp is 95.1 and dropping. Both patients intubated, neither conscious. Out." He flipped a switch on the headset and looked at Mark. "You're sure she didn't take anything? No drugs, painkillers, alcohol, anything? Now's not the time to worry about legal trouble."

"Nothing," Mark said, shaking his head again. "I was with her all night. To the best of my knowledge, she's never taken anything except maybe some alcohol at parties, and not that much even then. And she hasn't been to a party in over a month."

"Okay. Has she been sick? Vomiting, fever, headache? Could she have been bitten by something?"

"Um... no fever," Mark said. "No vomiting, and I couldn't get her to wake up, so no way to check about a headache. She was feeling fine-- better than fine, really-- when she went to bed. I guess something could have bitten her."

"Alright. Does she have any allergies that you know of? Anything else we need to know? Any chance she's pregnant?"

Mark shook his head, wishing there were some way to tell them the truth. But nothing he could say would help her. "No allergies I know of. She's on birth control pills, so not likely pregnant."

"Got it. Just bcp's? No other meds?"

"None."

"Okay. We'll do what we can. Let the techs out and wait til the stretchers are moving away before you get out. Someone will take you to her as soon as they can."

***

He felt utterly helpless as he watched the stretcher being wheeled rapidly away. All he could do was follow them into the ER. A nurse snagged him before he got too far, though. "You're the husband? Come on, honey. I need to ask you some questions while she's with the doctors." She pulled him gently towards a computer terminal, while he craned his head to watch the frantic seeming activity in the examining area. Both beds were surrounded by doctors and nurses, and he couldn't even see what was going on.

He turned to the nurse, his face pale. "Is she going to be okay?"

She patted his hand soothingly. "She's in good hands. They'll do everything they can, I promise."

Since Kristen had been to the hospital before, most of her information was already in place. It was just a matter of updating the file to reflect their marriage, and verifying the symptoms he'd provided to the ambulance team. By the time she was done, things had calmed down. The nurse smiled at him. "Wait here, and I'll go see what's going on for you, okay hon?"

He nodded nervously, and watched her go over to consult with the doctors. Angie was already being wheeled away. "Okay," she said, as she returned. "You can come see her. We're getting a bed ready for her in ICU."

Kristen didn't look any better to his eyes. The tube was still down her throat, and an IV line ran to the back of her hand. They'd wrapped her in heated blankets, and hooked her up to a heart monitor and a blood oxygen monitor, neither of which showed promising numbers.

He closed his eyes, searching for the bad link, frightened by the dimness of her aura. It was still sucking energy from her, though it had slowed. She couldn't afford to lose it, though, not even slowly. Not now. He brushed a strand of hair away from her forehead, then looked around for a nurse.

"I need to make a call... where can I use my cell phone?"

"In the hall, away from the monitors."

He nodded, giving Kristen one last look, then headed into the hallway and dialed Kayla.

She answered before the first ring had finished. "I'm here. What's happening?"

"She's not doing so hot," he said, his voice tight. "Angie did try suicide. Looks like her husband left her. Kristen need energy badly. Um..."

"There's no way she can get it, Mark," Kayla said worriedly. "Not if she's not awake."

"Ah. Actually. I was wondering about that," he said. "Um. The link to Angie is certainly able to drain energy, even when she was several miles away. So logically, it should work in reverse, too, right?"

"If it's the link draining it, rather than her burning it to fight the pain of the link, it might," she said.

"So... um." He could only think of one way to help. And she wasn't going to like it.

"So you want me to fuck someone when Kris might be dying," she said, flatly.

He winced. He'd known she wasn't going to like it. "No. I want you to possibly save her life. If you and Aaron... well, both of you have links. It might help. It might help Angie, too."

"Aaron's link is to you, not her," Kayla pointed out. "But yes. I do understand, Mark. I don't like it. But it's worth a try. Anything is."

"Angie took a lot of pills, Kayla," he said softly, not trying to hide the fear in his voice. "Darvocet and Sonata both."

"Was she still breathing when they reached her?"

"Yeah. I'm not sure how much of that was Kristen's energy, though," he said.

"Doesn't matter," she said, firmly. "If she was still breathing, her heart was still beating. That gives her a good chance. A real good chance. If she's okay, Kris should be. I hope."

"Thanks. I'm going to go sit with her. Do what you can, okay, love?"

"Yeah," she said, with a sigh. "I will. You call me when you know, got it? I'll be at the hospital by morning, anyway. No matter what."

"I will."

***

They were moving her by the time he got back. Angie was already there, on another bed, hooked up to life support.

They let him in, though they told him he'd have to leave after 20 minutes. Strict hospital policy. He sat by Kristen's bed, holding her limp hand, while the admitting nurse talked quietly to the charge nurse. He caught most of it: "... coma... unknown... temp keeps dropping... no reason. Blood tests clean... fourteen, no history of illness..."

A nurse did something to Angie in the next bed, and Kristen twitched. Her hand was ice cold, her fingernails tinted slightly blue. He checked the bond again, and found that it was just barely draining her now... but it was almost totally dark, just a black wound across the faint light of her soul.

Closing his eyes, he concentrated on trying to transfer his own energy to her directly, but he couldn't tell if he was actually accomplishing anything. She might have felt a touch warmer... but it was impossible for him to tell for sure.

"Mr. Hasseran?"

He opened his eyes, looking up at a tall, middle-aged man in a doctor's white coat. "Yes?"

"I'm Dr. Morgan. I'm in charge of your wife's case."

He nodded. "What's wrong with her?"

"I'm afraid we're not sure yet. We're running some tests."

"Is she... is she going to be all right?" Mark asked, hoarsely, wanting whatever reassurance he could get, even if he knew that there was nothing they could really do.

The doctor sighed. "I honestly can't say for sure. I'm sorry, I wish I could. Right now, she's stable. We can keep her temperature up, and we can keep her breathing. That'll give us a chance to find out what's causing this, so we can fix it."

Mark nodded, clasping his hands tightly to stop their shaking. "I... see. She was fine when we went to bed..."

"Well, her blood tests came back clean," the doctor said. "No histamine action, so this isn't an allergic reaction of some sort. Her blood sugar is okay, too, though just a tad too low. Her liver and kidneys still seem to be working right now. If there'd been any sign of drugs in her system, I'd swear this was an overdose. Except for pumping her stomach, we're having to treat it like one. I'd like your permission to administer a mild stimulant to her, to see if we can't get that heart rate up."

Mark nodded. "If you think that's a good idea, go right ahead."

The doctor smiled, and opened his mouth to answer, but at that moment, Angie went into convulsions, and Kristen's heart monitor suddenly flat-lined.

The blood drained from Mark's face. "What's happening?"

The doctor ran for the bed, and shouted, "NURSE! Defib team now!" The other nurse grabbed Mark by the arms.

"You'll have to leave, sir," she said, pushing him towards the exit.

"But-- but--"

"I'm sorry, but you have to give them room! Please wait outside."

He stumbled backwards out into the hallway, blindly, not wanting to take his eyes off of her, but she was surrounded by people, all of them frantically working. He could hear the high, steady tone of the monitor, and the jackhammer sound of the defibrillator.

He closed his eyes, reaching for her, trying to push energy to her, and felt her falling away, out of his reach. He slid to his knees, his head against the wall, sick with fear.

"She's not responding, doctor... we've lost her."

"Doctor! We need you over here!"

Mark shook his head, horrified. "No," he whispered. "No, no, no..."

The defibrillator stopped, leaving only the shill cry of the heart monitor.

beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.....



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