Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Avenger Assembled

Outing (IC)

Recommended Posts

It was the early morning hours at the hospital when Mark decided to give Erin on a call, sure on a whim that his friend would be awake and with time on her hands even this early in the semester. His mom had gone home, and he was the last family of his grandma's still over there. He couldn't just leave till he was sure she was okay, but he didn't want to be alone either. "Hey, Erin. It's me, Mark," he said unnecessarily. "Are you doing anything?"

Share this post


Link to post

Erin snapped up the phone on the first ring, sneaking a glance over at the slumbering Alex, who didn't seem to have been disturbed by the noise. "Hey Mark," she said softly, "Not really, just trying to get a jump on my homework. As usual," she added wryly. "What do you need?" Mark, for all his perkiness, wasn't really an early morning person, and he wasn't the sort to just call on a whim. He was more likely to actually stop by on a whim. Was he off campus?

Share this post


Link to post

"Oh, uh," said Mark, sounding unusually unsure of himself, "I just wanted to see if you wanted to come over or something. To the hospital; McNider." He added belatedly, when he realized his words, "It's, uh, my Gramma Stephie. She had chest pains while we were eating dinner, so she's staying overnight for observation. I'm sure she's OK, though, she's just very old. I just...my mom went home, but I didn't want to leave yet."

Share this post


Link to post

"Oh, um, sure," Erin said without really thinking. She didn't know exactly why Mark would call her, but maybe he just figured she'd be awake at this hour. And they were teammates after all, even if she wouldn't pick herself as anyone's shoulder to cry on, or whatever he needed. Maybe he just needed somebody to be there, and she could do that much. "I'll be over in just a few minutes. You'll probably want to meet me at the front since we're outside visiting hours. I'm sure you can get me in."

Share this post


Link to post

"Okay, I'll be waiting for you," said Mark. "Thanks, Erin," he said simply. He was waiting out in the lobby some minutes later, a solitary figure in a quiet night at the old hospital. With a little stubble and in an old shirt, he was much less obtrusive than his usual peppy, bouncy self, especially in grey and black rather than bright primary colors. A magazine going back and forth from his hand, tossing, he leaned over and peered at the door.

Share this post


Link to post

Erin was as good as her word, making the trip across the city in less than five minutes once she'd gotten her shoes on and poured food into Oliver's dish. She had on a pair of jeans so new they still had the folding creases in them, and a green sweater Mark hadn't seen on her before, which was a rarity for Erin. She covered the last hundred meters on foot so as not to attract attention, walking in through the revolving lobby door like any visitor. "Hey," she said, walking over to Mark. "How's your grandma doing? Any news?"

Share this post


Link to post

"No news," said Mark with a little shrug. "But she's sleeping, or was last time I saw her." He smiled just a little. "She's ninety-eight years old, you know? But the doctors say she's got another decade in her if she stays healthy. And so I hope she will." He patted Erin lightly on the arm. "She's my dad's mom, you know, so she's had it tough lately. That's why she was over at our house to begin with. Thanks for coming out," he added. "I...I really appreciate it. I knew anyone else would want to...I don't know, comfort me or something. But you'd just be my friend."

Share this post


Link to post

Erin gave him a quick smile. "Well, being teammates isn't all about fighting supervillains, right?" She fished around for something to say that wouldn't sound comforting or banal. "Um, so this is the grandma who was married to Jimmy Lucas, right? I bet she has some crazy stories to tell." Erin already knew the craziest one, but it seemed entirely impolitic to bring that up, especially under the circumstances. "Is she still pretty sharp, mentally?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Oh yeah," said Mark agreeably. "I mean her brain's not as fast as it used to be, but she's still pretty sharp. My dad always said she was the brains of the family, even when my grandpa was alive. She was a photographer for the Herald for twenty years, that's how she and Grandpa Jimmy met. So she's got all these old sepia pictures still up all over her walls; the ones she didn't give my dad, anyway." He smiled a little, making little gestures in the air. "She still knits every day. She actually made a winter hat for me this year, but it just hasn't been cold enough for that."

Share this post


Link to post

"That's really nice," Erin said, meaning it sincerely as they walked down the cold white hallways past the luckily-empty nurse's station. "You'll wear it eventually, I'm sure. So you're hanging around just in case she wakes up, so she won't be alone?" It was important to concentrate on the conversation, rather than on the location. Erin's feelings about hospitals were complicated. She was glad they were around and available, but actually being in one did nothing for her. Mark didn't need to know that though, and she was pretty confident he wouldn't notice her mild discomfort.

Share this post


Link to post

"Yeah," Mark agreed, following along with his hands in his pockets. "I mean, she's always been there for me, even though she was older than most of the other grandmas when I was born. All the other grandmas, in fact." Mark was nervous about Erin at the hospital, but not for the reasons she thought. He knew she didn't have any grandmas at all, and this might not be something she wanted to hear about. They were heading for the geriatric ward, Erin noticed, a very quiet place this time of night.

Share this post


Link to post

"You'll have to tell me some of her stories," Erin told him, looking around automatically as they walked in. It was an Alzheimer's-equipped ward, with a simple keypad lock and the code written just above it, to allow visitors while confining the most vulnerable patients. Erin didn't like thinking of being that old and absent in mind, but it still beat the alternative, she guessed.

She had a brief flash of deja vu when she looked at the high-tech monitoring system at the nurses station, and realized she'd been here before. Well, not here, precisely, but to a here very close to here. Dr. Atom had needed some components from a computer system, and had hoped that the keypad system might have protected this one. Which it might have, had not the patients and staff been inoculated. It had looked a lot different back then, with a lot more rotting and dessicated... stuff. She definitely wasn't going to share that with Mark. Shaking it off, she automatically took in the entrances and exits as they walked down the long corridor. "Do you know when they'll send her home?"

Share this post


Link to post

Oblivious to his friend's memories, Mark nodded. "I will, just let me check..." He opened a door with "Lucas, S" on the outside and peered into the darkened hospital room. He'd left his Gramma's TV running on one of the quiet hospital-only channels, and a whirling image of space played to quiet music. Erin could just make out Stephy Lucas over Mark's shoulder; the sleeping old woman was very tiny, with a short poof of white hair around her head. "Yeah, she's still asleep," he murmured quietly.

Share this post


Link to post

"That's probably good," Erin guessed, "she could use the sleep. Some people have a hard time sleeping in hospitals. You know," she suggested, "maybe we could turn one of our beacons to broadcast mode only, and tune the other one in to it, then leave it in here. Sort of like, you know, a baby monitor, so if she wakes up, you'll hear it. Then we can sit out here and not disturb her?" The waiting room was deserted at this hour, but it was more welcoming than the dark hospital room where a stranger was sleeping.

Share this post


Link to post

"That's a good idea," agreed Mark. Carefully he tuned his commlink and left it on his grandmother's nightstand, peering down at her with a shadowed look. "Night night Gramma Stephy." With a soft sigh, he closed the door behind him, then led the way back down towards the waiting room. "I don't go to hospitals much," he said awkwardly, afraid it would sound like bragging. "I don't know that many people outside of school, and most of them...well, they don't need me around when they're sick. This is a nice hospital, though," he added, "It's where my dad and I were both born."

Share this post


Link to post

"McNider's one of the best hospitals in the country," Erin agreed with a nod. "And it's been around a long time. I'm sure they're taking really good care of your grandma. And it's really clean, too," she added, seemingly apropos of nothing. "I'm going to get a cup of coffee, do you want one?" The carafe of coffee in the corner looked like it had been there for awhile, but the warmer light was on, and it was something to do with her hands.

Share this post


Link to post

"Sure," agreed Mark. The coffee was piping hot when Erin got it, just the thing for a chilly autumn night. Mark dumped in a whole mess of cream and sugar, the way Erin usually saw him take coffee, and took a long drink. "Thanks. Cold as it is, something warmer is nice. That's...not bad," he said. "It makes me want to get Trevor's blend from him next time I see him. He makes the best cup of coffee." He looked down at his reflection. "Thanks again for coming out, Erin."

Share this post


Link to post

Erin cracked a smile at that. "He makes coffee a whole lot better than this," she agreed. Like Mark, she'd heavily doctored her coffee before drinking it, so that it was sweet sludge the color of almonds instead of bitter sludge the color of tar. "And you know you only have to call. You'd do the same for me or any of us. Tell me about your grandma," she suggested. It would pass the time, and she suspected that there really were some odd stories lurking in the wings.

Share this post


Link to post

"Well," Mark said, not needing much prompting, "this one time, she and all the other wives and girlfriends of the old Liberty League, they found out that their boyfriends had all been captured! Lady Liberty's boyfriend was there too...well, sort of her boyfriend. Long story." He coughed. "Anyway, they all decided the best way to rescue their men from the gangsters who were holding them was to dress up in their costumes and try and fool the gangsters! So Gramma put on one of Grandpa's suits, the really loud checked ones, found a fake lamp, and then they all snuck into the gangsters' hideout and pretended that Eldritch the wizard had turned them all into women for being captured. Then when the gangsters got distracted, bam! They attacked! Gramma socked three guys with that lamp. Shot one of them, too." He shrugged at the look she gave him for that. "It was a different time."

Share this post


Link to post

"Good for her," Erin said with a nod. "You have to use what you've got when you're life's at stake." She certainly wasn't about to begrudge anyone the use of a lethal weapon when it was obviously necessary. "It sounds like she was pretty brave, and smart. What did your grandpa think about his wife coming to rescue him, and all the other League members? I bet it was something to see." She smiled a little thinking about how weird that reunion must have been.

Share this post


Link to post

"He was happy," said Mark with a little half-shrug. "Or so I've always heard, anyway. Grandpa Jimmy died before I was born, so I've never had a chance to talk to him about this stuff. But from all everyone's told me, Gramma and Grandpa really did love each other just that much. His parents didn't approve because she was older than he was, and had a career, and her parents didn't approve because...well, he was a little thick sometimes, but they just had lots of love. My dad always told me they were the kind of marriage he was glad to have, and that he thought I should have some day."

Share this post


Link to post

"It sounds nice," Erin replied simply. "She sounds like a really interesting person. I'm glad she's going to get better." With that, she pretty much exhausted her store of conversation, so she fell silent. Mark could always be relied upon to fill the silences, it was simply a matter of with what. She really didn't understand the way his mind worked sometimes, but if her being here, for all her social inadequacy, helped him somehow, she was glad of it.

Share this post


Link to post

Mark talked some more about his grandma and his grandpa, about what it must have been like to be a superhero's wife back in the Golden Age, then changed the subject a little, talking more about their lives. "My grandpa actually wrote a couple of books, and a collection of his columns got published, while he was active. I've read some of them and they're pretty good, he did a lot of stories about families and life in Freedom City. He's sort of like a nicer Mickey Rooney, or if Charles Schultz was a writer. That's where Dad got the idea, but his books were all tough men's adventure stories."

Share this post


Link to post

"There's a lot of writers and artists in your family," Erin commented. "Maybe you can do that someday if you decide to retire. You'll have all kinds of weird stories to tell. Probably have to sell them as fiction," she concluded with a half-smile. "But you could tell the stories, your mom could illustrate them, it'd be kind of cool. Maybe for kids or something like that." She looked around the empty waiting room again, listened to the quiet buzz of static on her beacon. Hospitals were eerie in the small hours of the night.

Share this post


Link to post

"I'd like to do something like that," Mark admitted. "Lately, I...I've been thinking," he said, giving Erin a searching look. "That maybe I don't want to be a superhero when I grow up. Like, not full-time. I'd still wear the costume and take the League reservist spot Claremont kids get when they graduate, but that maybe there's something else I could do." He looked down at his hands and said quietly, "There are other things in life than just that."

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×