Informed consent (M/L ADULT) [COMPLETE]

Finished stories set in an alternate universe to that introduced in the show, or which alter events from the show significantly, but which include the Roswell characters. Aliens play a role in these fics. All complete stories on the main AU with Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

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Informed consent (M/L ADULT) [COMPLETE]

Post by greywolf » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:28 am

Title: Informed Consent
Author: Greywolf
Banner by Precariousem
Rating: Adult
Coupling: L/M
Disclaimer: I own nothing Roswell …please don't sue....
Summary: Liz never got shot in the Crashdown. Before that could happen, something else did. This will be a medium short story. Do NOT expect frequent updates until both Falling and Decisions are completed. I didn't really mean to start this but the idea came to me and I needed to get enough of it down to remember it.


It was a very small ceremony...just three people present. Of course, all things are relative. In this universe that constituted the entire population, so by that standard it was huge perhaps. Even certainly wasn't your typical wedding.

"You're sure about this?" asked Liz nervously...

"More certain than I've ever been about anything in my whole life, Liz," said Max.

Liz looked up at Isabel and shrugged her shoulders, a sad little smile on her lips. Isabel looked down on her with obvious approval...and more than a little regret that she hadn't gotten to know the girl years ago....hadn't understood her as well as she had come to understand her these last eight months. More than anything else, she regretted the near-decade she'd been trying her best to keep these two apart.

Isabel looked at Max, then back at Liz, and with a smile not too different from Liz's started to intone. "Repeat after me.....I, Elizabeth Parker..."

"I, Elizabeth Parker..."

"..take thee, Maxwell Evans, as my wedded husband,.."

"..take thee, Maxwell Evans, as my wedded husband..."

  • ten months ago

    He was 32 years old, and in most societies would have been considered an adult. But this wasn't most societies, it was Roswell New Mexico, Earth, in the very late twentieth-century. It wasn't the first time he'd been drinking and was in fact one of many. And it wasn't like he'd never been caught...he had in the course of his lifetime, had a total of seven DUIs, two of them while a minor who was supposed to not have access to alcohol at all. But this was, after all, the late twentieth century, and it had become fashionable to not hold adults responsible for their actions. In fact, adolescence was extended, for legal purposes, to ridiculous lengths, with excuses made for all sorts of irresponsible and antisocial conduct. The perpetrators were judged to be...not old enough to understand what they were doing. And even in cases like this when at 32 years of age it was difficult to deny this individuals adult status, there was another rationale for denying him culpability for his crimes....he was merely sick. Yes. alcoholism was a 'disease' and the man had gotten off several times because he was 'unable to control his actions,' the nonjudgmental nature of the era accepting this excuse, without imposing the logical action were this legal fantasy actually true of actually incarcerating this man, as they would certainly have done for any other animal whose nature placed the public at risk.

    His vehicle was a large diesel pickup truck, and he'd been out drinking with the boys again. There was almost a case of empty beer cans back in the box of the pickup. and several bottles of tequila had bit the dust in the last few hours as well. His blood alcohol at autopsy would be 0.32....four times the legal limit. Yes, tonight the man would die...despite...or perhaps because of all the chances the legal system had given him. Ultimately the laws of physics would do what the laws of man had failed to do...take him off the road and out of the gene pool as well.

    The truck was doing almost 120 mph when it crossed the double yellow line, it's intoxicated operator barely conscious. The oncoming car had little warning and its operator was barely able in the last tenth of a second to wrench the car away from the head on that would have instantly killed both drivers, but for the driver of the truck the reprieve was only temporary.

    The front of the truck impacted heavily on the left side of the car directly behind the driver, sending the car spinning off the highway toward a lamppost, but the truck itself had now started to skid and as it rebounded back to the right side of the highway, still doing in excess of ninety miles per hour. The truck driver had responded slowly ...even after the impact, but he had also turned the wheel rapidly to the right and the truck simply couldn't turn that rolled over repeatedly as it continued down the road. On the second roll the cab of the truck was sufficiently distorted that the driver's side door sprung...spilling the driver, who had neglected to wear his seatbelt, out in the only direction the laws of physics allowed...into the path of the rolling vehicle. A fraction of a second later the rolling truck caught up with the man...the laws of physics then doing what the laws ot the state of New Mexico had been unable to do...removing the man permanently from behind the wheel.

    Liz Parker had only had her license for six weeks when Amy DeLuca's faithful Jetta had its transmission go out. It was a Friday, and parts would not be available until Monday morning. That's how Liz found herself out in the family car at 11:20PM , just returning from driving Maria home after their late Friday shift. She was only sixteen, and the accident statistics for teenagers driving at night are uniformly terrible in all states due largely to their inexperience and the lack of a meaningful concept of mortality in the very young. But Liz wasn't taking unreasonable risks...wasn't drinking and fact, was not doing anything wrong as she drove directly home in complete obedience to all the traffic laws....but none of that kept the big pickup truck from crossing the double yellow line suddenly as its drunken operator passed out. She had seen the speeding truck coming....pulled her car to the right...slowed down...but it hadn't been enough. She swerved desperately and avoided the headon, but there was too little warning to avoid the truck completely.

    Although she had yanked the front of her vehicle away from the head-on collision, the speeding truck smashed viciously into the car just aft of the driver’s door, the impact instantly setting off the driver side airbag located in the steering wheel and slamming her back against the seat. But this position of relative safety was short-lived as the rear of the car skidded from the impact and the car began to spin. The impact with the lamp post was directly behind the right front seat door, and as the car bent itself around the post, the driver was thrust laterally to the right…out from behind the collapsing remains of the airbag…even sliding past the restraint of her shoulder harness….and as she crumpled over the seatbelt holding her, her head slashed down to what once would have been the passenger seat….before the impact of the post had distorted the car. But where the passenger seat once would have been was now the side of the car pushed inward by the unmoving lamp post and the motion of her head was arrested quickly by its impact with that distorted wall.

    Her head literally bounced off that distorted metal, the bony structure under her crown and upper skull not quite fracturing from the impact. But within that skull, within the braincase that had evolved to protect the brain that was the very core of the person that was Liz Parker, more serious damage was occurring.

    The technical term was a coup-contrecoup injury. The ‘coup’ injury occurs at the area of impact in this case the frontal portion of the cerebral hemispheres, the contrecoup injury occurs as the brain rebounds backwards in the cranial cavity. In this case the ‘coup’ injury was high enough that the contrecoup injury was at the very base of the brain … near where the spinal cord exits from the skull. For this small area…the brainstem…it was actually a double disaster. The initial injury was itself bad enough…bruising and twisting the brainstem in something called diffuse axonal shear. But as the brain above swelled in the tight cranial vault, the tissue had nowhere to go…nowhere but to force itself downward…forcing the stem of the brain through the foramen magnum, herniating the brainstem through the only opening available. By the time the ambulance got there, the young driver was barely breathing.

".... to love, comfort, honor and keep you Maxwell... For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. And forsaking all others," repeated Liz, not without some reservations.

The biggest reservation was the certainty that this was all just a dream...on that there didn't seem to be any real debate. She did believe she'd been injured in an accident...she remembered it happening....that part at least made sense...but she was pretty sure that this Max and Isabel were both figments of her imagination. Oh, a Max and Isabel Evans existed alright, .... she'd known them both for years, back before the accident...and the period of total sensory deprivation that she'd had before this 'Max and Izzy,' had broken it for her. But she was pretty much convinced that the 'Max' she was now marrying, and the 'Isabel' that was assisting with their vows...weren't THOSE Max and Isabel. These two were simply creations of a mind that was trapped within itself...her mind...or what was left of it.

They had told her it had only been two months that she'd been trapped in that isolation...that sensory had seemed like an eternity to her. In a very real sense she believed she had gone insane during that time...was probably still insane, her mind conjuring an 'alien' brother and sister pair to comfort her in her more than phantoms, but still...somehow...bringing her back from that abyys of soul numbing emptiness that she had occupied before her mind had created them.

No, the real Max and Isabel wouldn't be in this place with her...wouldn't be doing something they called a 'dreamwalk,'...and the real Max and Isabel Evans weren't... and certainly never claimed to be...alien survivors from the 1947 saucer. But as Liz came to the final words she realized that reservations were pointless. She almost certainly WAS in a coma...nothing else made sense....and there was no indication she'd ever get out of the coma.....and since that seemed to be her fate, ...this was certainly a pleasant enough dream.....even if it wasn't...and never could be...real.

"until death do us part...," finished Liz, with a shy smile.

  • ten months ago:

    It was almost midnight as he approached the door to the living quarters behind the Crashdown. There were actually a lot of good things about being Sheriff, Jim Valenti kept telling himself, but there were some horrible things too. Among these was notifying the parents of a teenager that they'd been in a serious auto accident, and that their child might not make it. It was even worse when he knew the accident victim...when she was a classmate of his own son. 'Hmpph,' Jim Valenti thought to himself, '...accident my ass...,' He'd personally gotten that bastard for DUI twice, and the damn lawyers and judges had kept letting him go. And now...this.

    Jim could have gotten the operator to give him the unlisted number for the Parkers' residence, but Jim had never been able to bring himself to do that. Bad enough to learn that someone you'd loved their entire life maybe wasn't going to make it from a human in person. He couldn't bring himself to break news like that over the phone.

    Jeff Parker had been in bed for forty-five minutes, but he had not even started to go to sleep. He wouldn't, he knew, until he heard her climbing the steps up to her bedroom. When he heard that, he'd probably be asleep before she got to the top of the stairs, but until he knew for sure she was back, sleep just wasn't going to happen. She was only about forty-five minutes late...she'd probably gone in to talk with Maria for a few minutes...maybe have a soda...and they'd just lost track of time. At least that was what Jeff Parker was telling himself until he heard the doorbell ring downstairs. He hurried down, hoping that somehow Liz had just lost her keys or something...had to walk home, and then ring the doorbell. It all made sense sort of, and he wanted to believe that, because that thought was so much less frightening than the alternative he feared. But when he opened the door and saw Jim Valenti standing there, Jeff Parker knew...even before Jim opened his mouth and said the words that he somehow knew were coming.

    "Jeff...I'm sorry...there's been an accident. Liz is in the Emergency Room at Roswell General being worked on right now."

    'Being worked on...,' the very phrase was like a fist clamped tightly around his heart. "How bad is it, Sheriff?"


    Perhaps Jeff and Nancy Parker would someday feel some gratitude for the sheriff getting them to the Emergency Room in his patrol car, certainly neither of them was in any shape to drive. But not tonight...there was no room in either of them for gratitude right now. The speed of the car...noise of the siren...the way the strobe lights lit up the surroundings in the night...all contributed to the terror that seemd to fill them completely.

    The terror continued as they went through the Emergency Room door. The charge nurse seemed to know who they were and why they were there …just by the look of fear that their faces held.

    “Mr. and Mrs. Parker?”

    “Yes,” said Jeff, “..our daughter Liz…”

    “She’s been transferred to the Intensive care unit…bed three. Jamie, will you take Mr. and Mrs. Parker to the ICU please?”

    They followed the orderly quietly, their minds in turmoil. Intensive Care was not good, but at least she was still alive. They exited the elevator at the third floor and traveled almost half the length of the building before they came to the door with the sign that said ‘ICU, visits by immediate family only for maximum of 15 minutes per hour.’ The orderly picked up the phone and told the unit clerk that the Parkers were here to see their daughter, and the doorlock buzzed briefly and they hurried in. They could see the unit clerk at the end of the short hallway….a hallway filled with doors leading to rooms with rolling beds where people were on beeping monitors and respirators, and where they had all varieties of IVs and tubes running into and out of them. It was too late for them to believe she was OK but with each step toward the desk they prayed she would live through this. As they passed room three they looked inside. It was empty…not even a bed. They stood there unable to move. Nancy Parker began to sob and Jeff felt tears running down his own eyes.

    The nurse was named Beverly, and she was twenty-eight years old...about average for an ICU nurse. They tended to burn out after three or four years, and go looking for a less stressful job. In fact, Liz wasn't her patient...her patient was across the hall in ICU bed one, but one look and she knew what they were thinking. She spoke quickly.

    "I believe the patient in that room is down in radiology getting some imaging studies. Her ICU nurse is Debbie Hansen...she's down there with her, as well as Doctor Taylor, her trauma surgeon. '...and the anesthesiologist and radiologist too..,' Beverly thought but didn't say. The girl's parents clearly had fears enough without knowing how badly injured the girl was, without getting it third hand from someone else's nurse. Doctor Taylor was not only one of Roswell's best trauma surgeons, but she was good at breaking the news to relatives...much better than several of the trauma surgeons who, in the nurses opinion, had all the tact of a freight train. If any one could calm these two down...give them a little hope, it was Dr. Taylor. "I'm sure Dr. Taylor will be up to talk to you as soon as the imaging studies are done."
Last edited by greywolf on Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:56 am, edited 208 times in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 10/1/2009

Post by greywolf » Thu Oct 02, 2008 11:11 pm

The background of Emily Taylor, MD, FACS was actually not unlike that of Liz Parker, at least for her first sixteen years. Doctor Taylor had been born in Tucumcari New Mexico, and had been the ‘Miss Scientist’ of Tucamcari high school before going on to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. After four years of pre-Med, Emily had been accepted to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where after four more years of study, she had graduated with honors. Accepted into the General Surgery program at Massachusetts General, she spent five more years in residency before getting selected for a trauma fellowship at the new trauma center in Albuquerque. Two years later, she had joined a trauma care practice based at the Roswell Regional Medical Center She’d been doing the job for almost three years now, and already Emily Taylor was facing the same kind of burnout that had long affected her partners.

Post traumatic stress disorder doesn’t just happen to victims of accidents, it happens to their caregivers as well. Emily had spent 7 of her last 18 hours in surgery, piecing back together the liver and pancreas and removing the spleen of a 23 year-old whose motorcycle had been struck nearly head-on by a vehicle making a left turn into him. She had not seen her home in almost 20 hours, and wouldn’t be leaving the hospital this morning for at least another four. The tragedy of Liz Parker was just the latest anguish that would eat on her soul today.

As the elevator got back to the ICU floor, Dr. Taylor’s eyes saw the frightened couple standing in room three, holding each other’s hand and looking with terrified eyes at the young patient in the ICU bed coming back from Medical Imaging. This was not going to be enjoyable… it never was.

You couldn’t destroy their hope. They needed time to adjust to this, but after nine years of seeing this, you knew the statistics by heart. The girl had come in with a Glasgow Coma Scale of four, and that alone meant she would have less than an 20 percent chance of survival or ever having any sort of meaningful life. But the MRI had also shown significant brainstem injury, as well as the contusions to the frontal lobes of the cerebrum. Dr. Taylor was not herself a neurosurgeon, but she’d seen many cases like this.

Even with the best of care, which Dr. Taylor had every intention of seeing that she received, Liz Parker had less than a 10 percent chance of survival, and almost no chance of ever being the girl she had been just 90 minutes ago. The best… the very best thing right now was to get her stabilized and get her medevac’d off to the trauma center in Albuquerque.

Liz Parker was young, she at least had that going for her, but the odds were not good that she would even survive the next four weeks, let alone wake from her coma. Emily Taylor also knew full well that if Liz Parker didn’t awaken from her coma in the next four weeks, the odds were overwhelming that she would never awaken from it at all.

Dr. Taylor nodded to the couple who seemed paralyzed by the sight of their daughter. It was easy to see why. Her forehead was bruised so badly her eyelids had swollen shot, she had an endotracheal tube in place with the anesthesiologist using an anesthesia bag to keep her breathing, she had a nasogastric tube, two IV lines, and a subclavian central venous line, as well as her urinary catheter. She’d soon need an intracranial pressure monitor in as well, but that could wait until she was in the trauma center. Even to Dr. Taylor, the teenager’s current appearance looked bad. She could only imagine what it was like for the girl’s parents.

"Mr. and Mrs Parker? I'm Doctor Taylor...."

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 10/2/2009

Post by greywolf » Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:31 pm

Debbie Hanson, RN, Trauma Nurse, had certainly seen enough banged up teenagers on Saturday mornings, but this one was a little different. Other than the facial bruising, she had very few external signs of trauma. For someone hovering so close to death, she really didn’t look all that traumatized. But Debbie wasn’t new to this business – she knew that the appearance was not the reality. In the head trauma business, the Glascow Coma scale was very predictive.

In the absence of drugs or alcohol artificially depressing the Coma scale, she had never seen someone with a Coma scale less than seven survive. But the airbag had done its job keeping down the additional injuries, and miracles did happen, so she wasn’t about to give up – not until the young girl was on the airplane being medevac’d to Albuquerque.

‘Thank goodness,’ she thought, ‘…that Doctor Taylor is here. I don’t know how I’d break this to them….’

“First of all,” said Dr. Taylor, “I want you to know what we’ve already done — both in the emergency room and here, before you got here. We are permitted in emergency situations to do life-saving and stabilizing care even in the absence of parental consent, or the consent of the individual who is too incapacitated to give consent, and that was the status of your daughter when she was brought in to the ER. In fact, this process started with the paramedics out in the field. Your daughter was barely breathing when they found her. They stabilized her neck because of concern that she might have a spinal fracture, and next began assisting her breathing with an Ambu bag — pushing air into her lungs since she wasn’t doing a very good job of breathing on her own. Her blood pressure was very low, and intravenous lines were started and she was given a large bolus of fluid. It didn’t seem to help the low blood pressure. She was brought quickly to the ER and we could find no sign of obvious bleeding, but hidden bleeding is one of the most deadly — but curable — problems we have in trauma. We put a small catheter through her abdominal wall to do something called a peritoneal lavage, looking for bleeding. There wasn’t any.”

“Thank, God,” said Nancy.

Dr. Taylor winced. “No, not exactly. Had her low blood pressure been from blood loss we would have taken Liz to surgery and fixed whatever blood vessel was leaking. What a normal tap meant was that her low blood pressure was NOT from loss of blood volume from a torn blood vessel, it was from something else. Given the pattern of her trauma and her facial bruising, that made the most likely cause damage to her central nervous system — her brain or spinal cord –“

“Brain or spinal cord?” asked Jeff Parker, feeling his wife’s hand clutch his — knowing she was feeling the same fears that were causing his knees to feel suddenly weak.

“As soon as we got your daughter stabilized, we took her down to radiology for an MRI – an imaging study of her head. She has a small non-displaced fracture of her second cervical vertebrae, but the spinal cord at that level looked perfectly OK. Of more concern was the imaging of her brain itself showed some degree of damage in two separate areas.

The initial impact — where the direct force was applied during the motor vehicle accident — was in the prefrontal cortex. The MRI demonstrated considerable bruising in this area, suggesting that the first impact of her head with part of the interior of the vehicle was very close to her forehead. The damage to this area will cause widespread swelling. We are giving your daughter high doses of glucocorticoids — synthetic cortisone drugs — to attempt to keep this swelling down.

Your daughter will need to have a small hole drilled through her skull and a monitoring catheter introduced to assess the amount of swelling. This is critical because if the pressure rises too high, the brain gets forced down toward the spinal cord, except because it can’t fit out the hole at the base of the skull,, the bottom of the brain can jam there, cutting off all brain activity to the body below the level of the neck. That is usually fatal. Unfortunately, if that does happen, the only real effective treatment is a cranial decompression — where we would literally have to open up your daughter’s skull to increase its volume.

We do not do that sort of surgery here in Roswell. It’s highly specialized, and that sort of neurosurgical capability is only available at the Level III trauma center in Albuquerque. For that reason, we will have to transfer your daughter by a medevac — an aircraft specially equipped and staffed to care for her enroute.”

“Would you monitor her here and ship her if the pressure got higher, or….”

“No,” said Doctor Taylor, “If the pressure does rise, the operation would have to be done immediately. What we will need to do is to get the monitor in here, and ship her as soon as she is stable enough to withstand transport — probably in an hour or two.”

“Dr. Taylor,” interrupted Nancy Parker, “Is Liz – is she in any pain?”

“No, Mrs. Parker — not at all. In fact, once we get the intracranial pressure catheter in place, we’ll be giving your daughter a drug called pentobarbital — it will put her in an artificial coma, decreasing the metabolic demands of her brain. She’ll be totally under for the next five days, to try to keep her brain from swelling.”

“So, if we can keep the swelling in the top of her brain from killing her for five days, she should start to get better?” asked Jeff, his voice quavering as he said ‘killing.’

Dr. Taylor hesitated, wishing she didn’t have to tell them the next part. “Unfortunately, that’s only a part of your daughter’s problem. The MRI also revealed damage in the midbrain. The midbrain is that part of the brain that handles a lot of involuntary functions. It is the part that allows Liz’s body to breathe without her having to consciously think about taking a breath, it handles maintenance of blood pressure, digestion, and in particular it is a very important part of something called the Reticular Activating System. This part of the brain is what maintains our consciousness.”

“What does that mean, Doctor?” asked Nancy Parker.

“Well, Mrs Parker, what I’m afraid it means is that we will just have to wait and see.

From the MRI we know there is damage in that area, and we know that your daughter is in a very deep coma right now. She needs to get up to Albuquerque where they can treat her aggressively if need be, but the truth is we just won’t know… certainly not for five days, possibly for a lot longer than that.

Just the concussion your daughter received could keep her unconscious for weeks. Clearly she has sustained some damage to the midbrain. If it is not serious, once she is off the pentobarbital – once the swelling goes down, she may well wake up.”

“And if the damage to her midbrain is too severe?”asked Jeff Parker.

“If the damage is too severe, she may well die, Mr. Parker. That is a very real possibility that you and your wife need to prepare yourself for. And even if she doesn’t…”

“Yes?” asked Nancy Parker.

“Even if she survives, there is a good possibility that she will never wake up at all –that she may remain in the coma. She may even wind up in something called a persistent vegetative state — not really a coma, but not really conscious either. All we can do is give her the best treatment we can,” said Dr. Taylor. “The best treatment we can give her, and our prayers too certainly wouldn’t hurt. She's young — resilient — she has a chance - but I can't promise you that will be enough.”

Two hours later, an air ambulance aircraft transported Liz Parker and her two parents from Roswell Airport to Albuquerque New Mexico, where she was taken to the University of New Mexico Level III trauma center.
Last edited by greywolf on Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 10/3/2009

Post by greywolf » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:32 pm

"Repeat after me: I, Maxwell Evans...", said Isabel

“I, Maxwell Evans..”

Isabel looked at her brother, remembering that day—almost a year ago now.

ten months ago

It had started out as a very normal Saturday morning, that is to say, Isabel had been her usual paranoid self. She had set the alarm clock for 4 AM and tried to dreamwalk Liz Parker, without much success. That happened, sometimes. Sometimes people were asleep but they just didn’t dream—or it was even possible that Liz was out of town. Generally speaking, Isabel could dreamwalk anyone within about a fifteen mile radius—adequate to cover the majority of people in Roswell, but apparently not Liz Parker, at least not today. So failing that, she’d done the next best thing. That was to dreamwalk Max.

The reason for all of this dreamwalking was, of course, the worry that had bothered her since the first day of school in third grade. She didn’t know how—didn’t know why—but the fact that Liz Parker seemed to have somehow enchanted her brother since that day—now over eight years ago—was incontrovertible. It was dangerous, of course, having her brother enchanted by a human—any human.

Generally speaking, Max was cautious around humans—as cautious as Isabel herself. ‘It’s just this one damn girl,’ thought Isabel. ‘If I could only somehow keep them apart.’ Not very damn likely though, she admitted to herself. Not with both of them in AP Biology. There were only sixteen kids in the class, and fourteen of them were going to be struggling to get ‘B’s and ‘C’s, because the other two were going to ruin the curve. What was worse, they were lab partners, and if Isabel only had one wish it would be that her brother did not have Liz as a lab partner at all. If she couldn’t have that one, she would have at least wished it weren’t in—biology.

So when she couldn’t dreamwalk Liz Parker, she’d dreamwalked her brother instead. That was a whole lot riskier, because if she didn’t do it carefully, Max could tell.

She’d tried one summer to teach Max how to dreamwalk, hoping that he might somehow be happier if he could at least share the dreams of those humans around him, since neither of them could ever really be a part of human society. Isabel had brought him in to her dream-orb, and propelled them together to see the dreams of a half-dozen people, from their folks to a few of their classmates—although not the one he wanted. She’d been naïve, then, believing that somehow a new skill might distract Max from the fifth grade girl he talked about constantly. It hadn’t been totally unsuccessful, although it had taken a previous camping trip with their folks for them to discover that Max could indeed dreamwalk humans, but only from one side of the tent to the other—perhaps six feet.

But those lessons had sensitized Max to dreamwalking—Isabel had to be cautious now, if she didn’t ease very slowly into Max’s dream-orb he could detect it. So she HAD been cautious—very cautious—and found about what she expected. His dream-orb had been filled with dreams of Liz Parker.

The bad thing was that he’d dreamed about Liz Parker in Biology, but at least he hadn’t been dreaming of Liz Parker’s biology—Isabel had caught him doing that once, and her surprise—and dismay—had let Max know that she was dreamwalking him. Max had been embarrassed—and angry. They’d argued for hours the next day.

It wasn’t that Isabel had anything against any human— not even against Liz Parker, if her brother wasn’t just so damned obsessed by her—it was that they’d both agreed—in fact, all three of them including Michael had agreed, that it just wasn’t possible for them to safely get too close to humans. But as much as Max would agree when they’d talk, his dreams revealed his true feelings. No, he would never let himself get too close to Liz—Isabel was sure of that—but he’d never stop wanting her either.

The Saturday camping trip had been planned almost four weeks previously. They’d get up, have a big breakfast, and then drive to Carlsbad to see the caverns. That night they would camp in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and they’d be back tomorrow night. It had seemed simple enough.

Isabel had gotten up early and taken a long shower, figuring she wasn’t going to have such creature comforts tonight in the tent. Her father and Max had already packed the gear in the station wagon by the time she came downstairs. Her mother had fixed a big breakfast, and Isabel thought that they were really the picture of the all-American family as they sat around the breakfast table—at least if you didn’t know that two of the four were not-of-this-Earth. But even so, she’d had every belief that it was going to be a great weekend—certainly no inkling that it would turn out to be the disaster that it would ultimately become.

“Max, don’t hog the syrup,” said Isabel, grabbing the bottle from his hands and squirting it on her own waffle.

“Isabel,... we have more syrup. Don’t we, Mom?”

“Actually, we do and we don’t,” replied Diane Evans. “We have another bottle, but it’s packed in the car with the food for the camping trip. So go easy on that, Isabel. Leave some for your brother.”

“I’ll use honey instead,” said Max, smiling, “By now the bottle’s got Isabel cooties on it anyway.”

“Oh Lord,” said Philip Evans. “Not even out of the house, and the teasing is starting already.”

Isabel smiled at her brother and shook her head softly. For all it frustrated her, Max did seem happier—more human, after he’d had a dream about Liz. What troubled her was where she feared that would eventually lead - that in the end his impossible love would only cause him pain.

“Philip, have you checked the weather for Carlsbad and Guadalupe?," her mother had asked. "I don’t mind a little rain, but when I remember two years ago…”

Isabel saw her father wince. Mom had reminded him about this prior to every trip they’d taken for the last two years—the one time Dad hadn’t checked the weather, and a tornado had come within 3 miles of the surprisingly empty campground in the middle of the night.

“I’ll do that right now, dear,” said Philip. Isabel had seen him checking last night—this was just to reassure Mom. He quickly tuned the local radio station.

Isabel remembered the words of the TV announcer like she’d heard them only yesterday. She realized even as she thought of that morning, that she would always remember those words.

“This is Larry Hebring for KBIM news and weather. Last night we had a fatal accident on West Second Street where it passes under West Relief route 285. A pick-up truck driven by a 32 year-old male crossed the double yellow line and impacted a car driven by a sixteen year-old Roswell girl prior to rolling over repeatedly.

The male, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the medical examiner. The preliminary investigation would indicate that alcohol was a factor in this accident.

The name of the deceased individual is being withheld pending notification of the next-of-kin. The sixteen year-old girl, Liz Parker of Roswell, was taken to Roswell Regional Medical Center where she was reported to be in extremely critical condition. She has since been transferred by air ambulance to the Level III trauma facility at Albuquerque.

Next we have the weather for south-central New Mexico and northern Texas…”

Isabel had watched the blood drain from her brother’s face, feeling the pain pour in waves from him, even without forming a connection with him. It had taken two months before he could convince her to actively help him, but she knew—knew that very first second—that Liz was more important to him than anything—more important than his own life.

She’d been a fool to ever believe she could stop him from loving Liz. In the first two months after Liz's injury Isabel had come to understand that her brother didn’t even want to survive without the girl. She could only hope that by helping them now, she would somehow at least partially make up for what she had done to them.

ten months ago

Max got up from the table and went out the back door, not saying a word. Ten seconds later the engine of the jeep started, and they could hear the vehicle back from the driveway and speed away toward the north.

“What? Where’s Max going…?” asked his father.

Isabel sat at the table, the tears already starting to fall as she realized how often she’d kept them apart. If Liz died, he’d never forgive her. Worse yet—she’d never forgive herself.

Isabel barely recognized her own voice when she spoke. It seemed impossibly calm for how she felt. In fact, she was somewhat surprised she could speak at all.

“He’s on his way to Albuquerque, Daddy …,” she replied, “ … to be with Liz.”
Last edited by greywolf on Mon Oct 06, 2008 5:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 10/6/2009

Post by greywolf » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:36 pm

It was 200 miles from Roswell to the Albuquerque Medical Center. Normally it took a little over three hours to drive that route, but the black jeep made the trip in two hours and forty minutes despite having to stop for fuel at Clines Corners, 140 miles north where highway 285 joined what was once the old Route 66 but was now Interstate 40.

Most of the route was pretty barren with only the small town of Vaughn and the even smaller villages like Encino and Tejon – little more than incorporated filling stations – to break the monotony of the desert of eastern New Mexico. But it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. He drove like an automaton, oblivious to the passing miles, his mind lost in his memories, his thoughts of her, and the thoughts of what might have been.

Sometimes it takes the threat of losing someone to really appreciate them – to realize that God doesn’t necessarily give us second chances – that every moment is precious – and every opportunity that wasn’t taken is an opportunity that might never come again. All these things and more went through his mind as the open topped jeep sped northward through the barren expanse of desert. You can pack a lot of regret into a two hundred mile journey when you don’t know if the one you are thinking of is even still alive. He thought about every minute he’d been with her – all the things he’d wished he’d been able to say to her. Suddenly all the reasons he’d kept his secret really didn’t seem all that important – not compared to the thought of her loss. He’d promised his sister – made a vow not to tell – believing that was necessary if they were to survive. But what was the point of merely surviving, he kept asking himself, if he had no reason to live?

As he approached the Sandia mountain range and headed down Tijeras Canyon toward the outskirts of Albuquerque, he had long since come to a decision. She was more important to him than his survival – more important than anything. He would go to the medical center – connect with her – heal her – whatever might be the consequences. If only it could have been that easy.

The nurse’s name was Muriel Hernandez. She was twenty-eight years old, worked in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit, and was just coming back from the cafeteria when she saw the teenage boy approach the door to the ICU and hesitate as he read the sign that restricted visitors to immediate family members.

“May I help you with something?” she asked.

When he looked up she could scarcely keep from wincing when she saw the fear and the pain in his eyes. It was a sight you saw frequently in the eyes of the families of patients in the ICU, but you never got used to it – and if anything it was worse in this young man who suddenly seemed so scared and lost.

“I – uh just drove here from Roswell to see Liz Parker…”

“Are you family? Her brother?”

“Uh, no…”

“Her boyfriend?”

“No,” Max replied. Perhaps if he’d trusted her more – perhaps that might have been – but now he couldn’t even claim to be that. “Uh, we’re just friends. She’d my lab partner in Sophomore Biology.”

It had been 12 years since Muriel had taken sophomore biology and she couldn’t remember the name of her lab partner but doubted the boy would have walked across the street to see her if she’d been hospitalized, unless it was to copy her notes or to get her to dissect a frog for him. This young man had just driven 200 miles and would be driving another 200 miles to get home – it was apparent the relationship was a little closer than what he was letting on.

“We really aren’t supposed to let anyone in who isn’t family,” said Muriel, feeling those sad eyes tugging at her own heartstrings and knowing that she really couldn’t send him away like that after coming so far, “ …but if you won’t tell anyone, I can get you in for a few minutes..”

“I’d appreciate that more than I could ever tell you,” said Max.

“Just one thing, your – uh, lab partner – is in what we call critical but stable condition. Her appearance might be a little … well, frightening. She has a number of tubes in her, and she’s in a halo to stabilize her neck fracture.”

“A halo?”

“We call it that because it screws in to the skull and sort of rings the head like a halo. That way we can keep her neck from moving and damaging her spine where the fracture made it unstable. It’s kind of alarming looking, and her head was shaved before she got here, for the intracranial pressure monitor probe. I just didn’t want you to be too shocked by how she looked.”

In fact, Muriel really didn’t want to tell the obviously heartbroken young man the whole truth – Liz Parker had a LOT of medical devices in her – the halo splint, an endotracheal tube, a naso-gastric tube, an intracranial pressure transducer, a subclavian catheter and several IV lines, and a urinary catheter. She was hooked to a respirator and a cardiac and blood pressure monitor and she looked like hell with all the facial bruising. He’d see that all soon enough she knew, as she punched her code in the keypad to open the door.

“Follow me, and please keep quiet and don’t make a fuss. Otherwise you get kicked out and I get in trouble.”
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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 10/15/2009

Post by greywolf » Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:04 am

Max walked by the small glassed-in rooms. Each seemed to have a person who was no longer altogether human – who was now hooked by long umbilical cords of connecting wires to monitors that gave their blood pressure, respiratory rate, and pulse rate, while another machine showed the patient’s electrocardiogram racing across a picture screen, a mechanical beeping sound accompanying every heartbeat. In fact, none of these people looked much more than barely alive to Max, and his fear grew with every step toward the room at the end of the unit – the one nearest the nurse’s station.

“We keep our most critical patients up here where we can watch them a little closer,” said Muriel. “Each room has its assigned nurse, but sometimes one isn’t enough. That’s where nurses like me come in. I’m called a floater. I help out nurses like Ginny, the woman who is taking care of your friend this shift.”

Max nodded soundlessly, unable to find his voice. He saw the room they were going toward. He couldn’t actually recognize Liz – the bruising of her face had obscured what little of her features he could see around the adhesive tape holding her endotracheal tube and nasogastric tube in place and the halo obscured most of her forehead , although the intracranial pressure monitor sensor leads were visible taped to her shaven scalp. She had more machines in her room than any of the others had – a volume cycled ventilator chugging away noisily beside her, forcing air through the endotracheal tube, a vital signs monitor beeping noisily at her side, a suction machine gurgling noisily as it emptied her stomach… Max felt a nausea deep within him…felt his legs go weak…and darkness overcame him.

The ammonia ampoule under his nose awakened Max suddenly.

“You’ll be alright,” said Muriel, “It’s not that uncommon a reaction. You’ll recall that I warned you that she didn’t look all that great right now .. but the face is mostly bruising, the hair will grow back, and even her neck fracture should heal as good as new. The big worry is how much of the damage to her cerebrum and midbrain is just what we call brain contusion, and how much is irreversible damage, and unfortunately we won’t know that for awhile – possibly several weeks.”

Max looked up from the floor at the bed holding the young girl. For almost two hundred miles his mind had been decided that he would heal her regardless of the consequences to himself.

He hadn’t really considered – not once – that even sacrificing his secret and putting his own survival at risk wouldn’t be enough. He had been so sure that if she lasted until he saw her, he could at least make her better, no matter what happened to him afterward. ‘But it isn’t going to be that easy,’ he thought. No, it wasn’t going to be easy at all.

“If you are feeling stronger,” said Muriel, “… you can sit in the chair beside her for a few minutes. Then I’m afraid we’ll have to get you out of here. Her parents were here most of the night with her. I imagine they’ll be back before too much longer.”

Muriel and the other nurse helped Max into the chair and he was able to hold her hand for a few minutes, carefully avoiding squeezing that might have displaced the IV in the back of her hand. Ten minutes later, Muriel shooed him out the rear door of the ICU, just as Jeff and Nancy Parker were entering the front door.

“Take thee, Liz Parker….”

“Take thee, Liz Parker,” Max repeated, looking in to those beautiful brown eyes looking up at him in the dream-orb.

That had been the problem all along. In the real world, the eyes had never opened. Oh, they could be opened, the doctors at the ICU in Albuquerque had done that repeatedly, shining flashlights in them to assess reactivity, then pounding on her tendons with their little rubber hammers.
But there was no one looking back out from those eyes, even when they were open.

Even before he’d been kicked out of the Medical Center in Albuquerque, he’d known. How many times did you have to pry open those bruised and battered eyelids – how many times did you have to stare into the vacant darkness of the pupils, to realize that the lights might be on, but no one was home. Except she had been home and even now she was home - deep within her brain. But not in her eyes ....
If the eyes were the window to the soul as the poets said, Liz hadn’t been able to get to hers – she still couldn’t – except in the dream orb.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 10/15/2009

Post by greywolf » Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:05 pm

Ten months ago:

He had felt lost sitting there in the waiting room. He hadn’t eaten for twenty hours, but he had no appetite. Liz had always been so alive but now that life hung by a thread, and all the powers that he had concealed for so long were helpless to do a damn thing about it if he couldn’t make a connection with her. There was no portal – no avenue for him to use his powers through her mind to change her – to heal her. Surely she couldn’t remain unconscious forever. He hid behind a magazine and watched her parents go towards the cafeteria. Muriel’s shift was over, but Max was sure he’d memorized the code as she’d punched it in to the keypanel beside the ICU door. It really didn’t matter, he could open it with his powers if he had to.

Max did his best to look inconspicuous as he walked slowly back to Liz’s cubicle. Her nurse was helping another nurse in an adjacent cubicle, and he walked quickly to her side. He should have known better, but it wasn’t like he was thinking clearly – he had been stressed out and not really thinking well since the moment he’d heard the news report. He should have known that if Liz was so deeply unconscious she needed a ventilator to keep her breathing she certainly wasn’t going to be conscious enough to connect with, even if he did pry her swollen eyelids back so he could look into her pupils, but shock and fear and growing despair do weird things to a person’s mind, even if the person is an alien-human hybrid.

Tears filled Max’s eyes as he carefully pried back the eyelids and tried – tried like he’d never tried for anything in his entire life – to make the connection, but it wouldn’t form. He got closer – his face pressing so close that the endotracheal tube was pressing against his cheek, as he strove to push his consciousness out – to join his mind with hers – but there was no one there.

“Come on, Liz,” he begged under his breath, trying not to remember all the times she had tried to get him to open up to her – tried to be more than just a lab partner – all the times that keeping his secret had seemed more important to him than anything they might have had.

“What are you doing?” Jeff Parker’s voice asked from behind him. “Who are you, and what are you doing to my daughter.”

Max stumbled back away from her bruised and battered face and turned to see Jeff and Nancy Parker. Mrs. Parker he knew – barely. Liz had introduced her at a high school open house night. Jeff Parker he had seen in the Crashdown, but hadn’t really met.

“I’m Max… Max Evans. Liz and I were … are lab partners in biology class. I heard on the radio this morning and … Oh God, this can’t be happening…”

Jeff knew the boy shouldn’t have been in the ICU, and he certainly shouldn’t have been touching Liz… but the tears and the regret seemed real enough. The Lord knew that Jeff had seen and felt enough of each in the last 24 hours to be a pretty good judge.

“I’m sorry son, but you shouldn’t even be in here. It’s restricted to family only. Lizzy is in pretty bad shape, and we’ve got to give the medical people the opportunity to do their best and they can’t do that if we mess with the equipment or try to interfere.”

Somehow the crushed and hopeless look on the boys face hit a resonant feeling in both parents. “Look, I know you’ve come a long way. If you would like to sit with is for a few minutes, that’s OK. But you can’t touch any of the equipment, and you can’t touch Lizzy. She has a broken neck, son. She can’t be touched or moved at all, understand?” Jeff asked, looking at his wife as if asking for – and receiving approval to make the offer.
They sat there for ten minutes, each looking at Liz and lost in their own thoughts.

It was the last civil word that Max had had with Liz’s folks.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 10/15/2009

Post by greywolf » Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:13 pm

" my wedded wife," intoned Isabel, looking at her brother and trying to smile. Isabel's thoughts were full of the memories of all those years she'd fought against this day, not really understanding just how important Liz had been to Max for all those years. With the loss of Liz, it was like her brother had gone insane.

Max had been caught repeatedly by the Albuquerque Medical Center security personnel getting in to the ICU. They couldn't figure out exactly how he did it. They had video of him using the keypad, but even after they'd changed the combination he'd apparently used his powers to bypass the lock to get into the ICU to be by her side. Eventually the Medical Center legal personnel had felt obligated to tell the Jeff and Nancy Parker that their brain-damaged daughter apparently had a stalker as well, and that they were getting an injunction to keep Max Evans off hospital property and strongly suggested the Parkers get such an injunction to keep the boy away from their daughter. They agreed, and the medical center legal people obtained both injunctions. They did no good. In less than 24 hours security had again caught Max at Liz's side, and Max was detained in the Albuquerque Jail until he could be released to his parents.

Isabel had gone with her parents to Albuquerque. Max was released in their custody, and she got the job of following behind them in the old Jeep. Max had looked like hell – Isabel was reasonably sure he hadn’t slept in the four days he had been gone. Two hours into the trip they’d stopped for gas and her father had come over to the jeep and said that Max hadn’t said a word the whole trip, asked if perhaps she could get him to open up, and she said she;d do her best. Max had talked to her as they drove the last hour back to Roswell, of course what he’d said was nothing she could share with her parents.

9 months and three weeks ago:

“Max – I’m so sorry. I guess I never really understood how much Liz meant to you…”

“MEANS to me, Izzy. Don’t you dare speak in the past tense. This isn’t over – not while Liz is alive – not while I’m alive.”

“Max, she may just be hurt too badly for you to do anything. You can’t save everyone and everything, Max.”

“This isn’t everyone, Izzy – this is Liz. If only she would open her eyes and look at me – I could do it, Izzy, I swear I could. I can’t believe – all of these years when I could have connected to her – when I practically had to fight myself to keep from connecting with her, and now – there’s just nothing there.”

“God Max, I’m so sorry,” Isabel said, her tears streaking her cheeks, “… but maybe there really IS nothing there.”

“Help me, Isabel…”

“Help you how? I can’t heal nearly as well as you can…”

“Help me find out if she’s still in there. Help me dreamwalk her…”

“Max, I can’t. “

“Can’t or won’t”

“I can’t, Max. Not from this distance. Not with her in Albuquerque…”

“When they bring her back – then will you do it?”

“Max, I’m not sure that’s a good idea…”

“That’s bullshit, Izzy. You dreamwalk other people all the time – just for ‘recreational purposes.’ Don’t tell me you won’t do this. I’ve got to know, Izzy. I can’t live like this, not knowing if she’s alive or dead.”

“Max – if they bring her back to Roswell…”

“WHEN they bring her back to Roswell..”

“OK, WHEN they bring her back to Roswell, I’ll help you dreamwalk her, Max. But until then I need you to promise – you won’t run off –won’t go back to Albuquerque and get yourself arrested again – and you WON’T go down to the hospital in Roswell – not until we know that she’s going to wake up. That’s the deal, OK?”

“OK, Izzy. It's a deal.”

On the fifteenth day after Liz’s accident, she was returned to Roswell Regional Medical Center by ambulance, still in a coma, but no longer unstable. The Parkers got another restraining order requiring Max to stay at least 100 yards away from their daughter. It was later that same night that Isabel had joined Max and tried to dreamwalk Liz. It hadn’t been successful. It was almost two months after her mishap before Liz’s brain would improve to the point that she would have REM sleep – actual dreams – and only then had she and Max made their first contact with Liz's dream-orb, but Liz had never regained consciousness and likely never would. Despite his powers, Max was helpless to do anything for her.

Over the last eight months Isabel had come to know Liz and to love her -- love her like the sister she wished she could be -- love her nearly as much as she loved her own brother. Isabel would have given her life to make this real – to see this happen in the real world, but it wasn’t going to happen. The connection Max could make through the dream-orb was far too tenuous to permit him to heal Liz. This ceremony – this acknowledgement of their love for each other – this was all that Isabel Evans could do for the two of them, as much as she loved them.

“...As my wedded wife,” repeated Max, a soft smile on his lips as he gazed into the eyes of his bride.
Last edited by greywolf on Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 10/17/2009

Post by greywolf » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:44 am

".... to love, comfort, honor and keep you, Elizabeth," intoned Isabel, smiling at her brother, hoping that he knew how very much she loved him -- him and his bride as well....

Ten months ago

Getting Liz back to Roswell simplified life a little for Jeff. No more long drives to Albuquerque, or nights spent in the small apartment the Medical Center had for the family of children in serious condition. Instead he was back home - back at work.

Liz was now in 'stable' condition, not that it wasn't still serious in ordinary terms. The neck injury was no longer an issue, the catheter was removed from her skull because there was no longer any threat of intracranial pressure buildup, she still had one IV, but that was used mainly for medications. She was fed through a feeding tube that provided pretty much all of her nutrition. Her vital signs were normal – had been for weeks. The only problem was that she wouldn’t wake up.

The rehab hospital wasn’t really a lower level of care, just a different level of care. The hospital was populated by patients who had had serious accidents or strokes, and required rehabilitation to get back to self-sufficiency. Liz was, by far, the least self-sufficient patient there.

But at least she was only a few blocks away. Jeff and Nancy could even take off during their breaks to go sit by her side – to watch her therapy. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

“Uh – Mr. P?”
Jeff looked up from his desk at Maria DeLuca.

“Uh – there’s someone in booth four that would like to talk to you.”

“What’s the trouble, Maria?”

“It’s no trouble – it’s – well, its Max Evans’ mother. She asked if she could speak to you.”

“I don’t know, Maria. I’m pretty busy getting caught up with these books…”

“Yeah, well I told her that. She said she’d wait as long as it took until you had time….”

“Couldn’t you just get rid of her, Maria. I’m really not in the mood to get in to an argument right now, and I’m pretty sure that’s what will happen if I talk to her.”

“I’ll see what I can do, Mr. P. You know – this is hard on all of us, too. Everybody who knew her.”

“Did Max know her, Maria? I mean – is there something here that you’re not telling me? Was there something going on between Liz and Max Evans? Was there some reason the boy was hanging around her like that up in Albuquerque?”

Maria sat down in the chair across from the desk, her cheeks streaking with tears.

“No, Mr. P. There was nothing between the two of them that I know about – and I would have known about it. I guess I wouldn’t be breaking any confidences with Liz to tell you what I do know though. Liz liked Max – she always did. A couple of times I think she tried to get closer to him than that – you know, going from just classmates to boy-girl stuff, but she said he always backed away. I used to kid her that he was watching her all the time – that he was secretly infatuated with her – only I’m not sure I was kidding. I always thought that some time he would get over his shyness – get over whatever was holding him back – but he never did. I swear, it’s like he wanted to get close to her since the third grade, but could never bring himself to do it.”

Jeff Parker looked at the tears in Maria’s eyes, fighting back his own tears. So this Max was like the Albuquerque police had feared – some disturbed kid with a fixation on Liz – someone who didn’t have the nerve to approach her while she was conscious – while she could defend herself, but who now was slinking around trying to get close to her for God only knew what sordid purpose.

“I guess I’d better speak to her,” Jeff said. After all, this was his job, not Maria’s. This much at least he could do for his daughter.

He walked up to the booth and sat down across from the woman. “Mrs. Evans, I understand you wish to speak to me.”

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 11/4/2008

Post by greywolf » Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:32 am

“Yes, Mr. Parker. I don’t know if you remember me or not. We met at a school open house night a few years ago – or maybe it was a science fair night – I really can’t recall.”

“I remember you, Mrs. Evans. Maria said you wanted to talk to me. I’m here. What is it you want?”

“Mr. Parker,… it’s about the restraining order on my son Max. I have to confess that his feelings toward your daughter took us – Philip and me – pretty much by surprise. We didn’t expect him to go driving off to Albuquerque that way, and he certainly had no business pestering the people at the medical center that way….”

“Pestering them, Mrs. Evans? I caught him myself once in her room. He was touching her face – she had a broken neck, Mrs. Evans. If he had turned her head just a little bit she could have died. He had no business being in that room – sneaking by the medical personnel…”

“No he didn’t, Mr. Parker. I couldn’t agree with you more. But Max – this is tearing Max up, Mr. Parker. Max normally doesn’t show his emotions – for a long time I wasn’t sure he even had emotions. We adopted Max and his sister when they were about six, Mr. Parker. Prior to that, well, I guess they hadn’t had much of a life. They say they can’t remember it – the psychologist from the department of child services says that’s often a protective mechanism – they either have actually repressed the memories and can’t remember – or they lie because bringing up the thoughts are so painful.”

“Is there a point to this, Mrs. Evans?”

“Yes – I’m sorry – it’s just that since this happened, it has been like Max has regressed to the way he was those first two years – when he was withdrawn and depressed – like he had nothing to live for.”

“I’m not a doctor, Mrs. Evans, but I would suggest you take your son back to the psychologist – perhaps they could help him. I really don’t see what this has to do with me.”

“The point is that I have taken him to see a psychologist – the point is the psychologist can do nothing for him. Max is depressed – it’s obvious, even to Max. But he won’t cooperate with the doctor – won’t take any treatment. He says that given your daughter’s condition, it’s normal for him to be depressed.”

For a few brief seconds Jeff Parker felt some degree of kinship with the young man. He felt the same way. Loving Liz like he did, he wouldn’t want anyone to cover up what he was feeling either – but all too quickly that feeling passed. He had his own child to worry about. “That doesn’t explain why you are here – what you want of me ...”

“What I want – what I’m here to ask of you – is if you would sign these papers – a request to the court that the restraining order against my son be modified to permit him to visit your daughter? I can add any stipulations you want – duration – frequency of visits – even require the presence of a chaperone when Max is there. I can make it so he can only be there when you or your wife are there to supervise if you would like. I know your daughter has been hurt, and she’s your priority – but somehow this has hurt my son – hurt him far more than I would have believed anything could hurt him. I’m asking for your help in getting him through this.”

“Mrs. Evans – My wife and I have little enough time I can spend at my daughter’s side now, and I’m not going to devote any of that time to chaperoning your son…”

“Then I could chaperone him – or my husband – or his sister…”

“My daughter has her own problems, Mrs. Evans. She is a badly injured young lady – not some form of therapy to cheer up your son. I’m sorry that he’s having troubles, but my daughter has some pretty severe problems of her own right now. I’m not going to do anything that might distract anyone from providing her the best care possible. I’m afraid that your son will just have to take his pills, and deal with it as best he can, because I have no intention of signing those papers.”

“Well, if that’s your final decision,” said Diane Evans, blinking back tears, “.. I really guess there is nothing more to say.”

As he saw her walk off, Jeff considered going after her – working something out. The first time he’d seen the boy up in Albuquerque, he’d seemed reasonable enough – but then he thought of what the Albuquerque police had suggested – thought of the kid’s own disturbed childhood. No, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. If it had been his own health it might have been different, but it wasn’t his health – it was the health of his daughter. He’d already failed to protect her from a drunken driver – that he could do nothing about – but he could protect her from this disturbed young man who was stalking her. It wasn’t much, but it was something.