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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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/3/2009

Post by greywolf » Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:51 am

  • Isabel looked up at the couple at the door, the concern in both their faces - the anger in Jeff Parker's face. She looked Jeff squarely in the eye as she replied, "I'm visiting Liz, that's what."

    "You are spying for that brother of yours. You barely even know my daughter - I'm not sure you ever talked to her before her accident."

    "I knew Liz," said Isabel, "...but you are right. Before her accident, I didn't know her as well as I could have - as well as I should have. I know you are hurting Mr. Parker - we are all hurting - but I know her well enough, Mr. Parker, to know that she wouldn't have wanted it to be like this. She cared for Max and I was stupid and kept them apart because I was afraid of her - now you're doing the same thing. Liz deserves better from both of us."

    "Look, Mr. P - she wasn't doing anything wrong. She was just visiting Liz with Alex - then he had to go and we thought we could pretty Liz up a little. She was looking sort of - institutional."

    Nancy Parker walked to her daughter's side, tears trickling down her cheeks. "And she's just beautiful too - Jeff, look at her hair. She wore it like that back in kindergarten - or was it first grade? And look at her fingernails..."

    "And toenails," Maria added. "Izzy did those."

    Nancy went over and hugged Isabel. "Thank you, Isabel.."

    "Izzy..," Isabel replied, her eyes still glued on Jeff Parker.

    Jeff Parker sensed a losing battle. Whatever his feelings, both Nancy and Maria clearly thought the Evans girl being there was OK and there seemed to be little to be gained by making an issue of one visit.

    "So, do you intend to continue to spy for your brother?"

    "As a matter of fact, yes, Mr. Parker. Max is hurting too - he wants Liz to get well just as much as anyone else does. If your daughter could speak to you, I know she'd tell you to let him come visit. Max isn't a threat to Liz."

    "The Albuquerque police department thinks differently, Miss Evans, and I'm afraid I'm going to go with their judgement in this case." He looked at his daughter and gave a sad smile. "She always did look good in pink - from the very first day. Where did you find a pink hospital gown, Maria?"

    "Izzy found it somewhere," Maria replied, giving him the look she always gave customers when she thought they were being immature dolts. Somehow that seemed to force his eyes back to Isabel Evans.

    "Look, I'm sorry - I'm sure you mean well, but... if you want to come here, OK, but keep your brother away. Maybe you are right. Maybe if Liz were awake, she'd want something different, but she's not, and Max isn't going to help her to wake up. If..., I mean, WHEN Liz wakes up, I'll ask her if she wants your brother to visit, and if she does I'll call him myself - but until then I think that it would be best for everyone if he just abide by the court order. If you want to visit Liz, Isabel..."

    "Izzy..."

    Jeff smiled sadly. "If you want to visit my daughter, Izzy, and tell him how she's doing - if that helps him somehow, well I hope it does, but for right now that's all the more I feel this family can do for your brother."

    "Fair enough, I guess. Like I said, it's not like I wasn't stupid enough to keep them apart myself. Thanks for letting me visit."

    "Thank you and Maria for dressing her up - doing her hair and nails," said Jeff Parker. "It is lovely. Her mother and I appreciate it very much."

    Isabel ran her hand softly across Liz's cheek, her face with the same sad smile shared by the other three standing in the room. "We didn't do it for you guys, we did it for Liz. WHEN she wakes up, a girl likes to look her best."

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/5/2009

Post by greywolf » Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:27 pm

“and keeping myself only unto her…,” said Max, looking into his bride’s eyes while repeating the vows Isabel spoke.



Six and a half months earlier
  • Ms. Habercrombe was irritated. That’s because she prided herself on always being a lady. But for that fact, she would have been pissed.

    The meeting in the small conference room at the hospital had NOT gone the way she would have liked it to. Generally her company’s subscribers were quite malleable – a few well chosen medical terms, some legal terms, and a lot of sympathy – showing them the Book, Case Management – Standard Recovery Times- third edition, that was enough for most of the patients or their parents who believed they were entitled to more than she thought they were.

    But that bastar… that client, Jeff Parker, had come loaded for bear, with not only his personal lawyer, but both Doctor Taylor AND Doctor Rutherford who had disputed the words that were CLEARLY WRITTEN in the Book. She had already told Parker that she was going to cut off payment to his precious gorked- out daughter whose incredible cost of treatment was driving the average cost of care in Ms. Habercrombe’s district up dramatically. Normally, she would have told the man the simple truth – his daughter was never waking up, because the Book said she wouldn’t, but the two doctors he’d brought with him both talked about the continuing REM sleep patterns – whatever the hell they were – and the girl’s youth – was it the insurance company’s fault she was only sixteen? – and the damn local attorney had rubbed her nose in the fact that the two doctors were specialists and she was ‘merely’ a case-manager, and the better part of valor had been to back off and seek reinforcements from the home office.

    “Bastards, “ she said under her breath as she left the hospital, forgetting briefly that she was a lady, “.. that bitch has already cost me my bonus for this quarter. I’ll be damned if I’ll lose my annual bonus too, just so old man Parker can keep his precious brain-dead daughter in luxury.”

    This wasn’t a defeat. Merely a strategic withdrawal. It would, however, buy them a few more weeks of care, until she could line up the company’s own paid medical consultants and legal personnel to be there for the next conference. That would cost money too though. ‘Damn – I wonder if even my Christmas bonus is safe,’ she thought as she got back in her car and headed back to the El Paso office.


    Jeff Parker was actually feeling pretty good – for a change something had gone well. He had thanked both of the physicians for their testimony and for the great care they were giving his daughter. Both had cautioned him that the odds were still not in Liz’s favor – telling him not to get false hopes up – but if care could be continued Liz had at least a small chance of recovery and still being in reasonable shape if she recovered. WHEN she recovered, he reminded himself. He didn’t want to think negatively – especially not after this victory. In fact, the two physicians had seemed reasonably pleased when they left, which left him only with his lawyer – who didn’t look at all happy.

    “Cheer up – we won.”

    Robert Stevens had been the Parker family lawyer – well, forever, practically. He shook his head and looked at Jeff. “We won round one – that’s the easy one.”

    “Well, a win is a win.”

    “No, in this case, this isn’t a win, it’s just sort of a – non-loss. The woman will be back. You caught her by surprise with more firepower than she was expecting and she’s retreated to regroup.”

    “Well, that’s why I have my lawyer here – to help me when she does.”

    “Jeff, I’ve told you, I do general law. I’ve helped you with the variance for the zoning on the Crashdown, a couple of liability issues. Healthcare insurance law is a whole different ball of wax. It’s new, and damn few attorneys have much experience in it. You need a specialist, not me. I mean, I’ll be glad to help – I’ve known Liz since before she was walking – but if she were my daughter, I’d get a lawyer that really knows New Mexico State healthcare law inside and out, and that isn’t me or the vast majority of lawyers in this state.”

    “Well, who would you recommend?”

    “In this area? There are only two. The one I know the best is Philip Evans.”

    “No! That’s just – no, that’s not even a possibility. Who is the other one?”

    “Well, actually, she’s supposed to be the better of the two anyway – at least when it comes to healthcare insurance law. That’s Phil’s wife, Diane.”

    Jeff Parker shook his head. “Look, Bob – we did fine today. Let’s not rock the boat. I don’t want either of those two involved – both have – what’s that legal term, conflicts of interest.”

    Stevens sighed deeply. “Well, OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

    Jeff watched as his lawyer – and friend – walked away. Bob always had been sort of a ‘glass half empty’ sort of guy. Jeff had been insured with the same company since before Liz was born – gotten the best coverage available for his family and all his employees that worked over twenty hours a week. ‘Who knows better than Lizzy’s own doctors?’ he thought. ‘Surely once the company sees the letters Doctor Taylor and Doctor Rutherford had written, that will be the end of it.’ Ms. Habercrombe was just a little overzealous, that was all. Any one could make a mistake. She’d learned her lesson today – surely that would be the end of it. At least, that’s what he thought, as he went to tell his wife the good news. Then they were going to go see Liz.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/5/2009(2)

Post by greywolf » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:56 am

  • Six months previously

    She hadn’t actually expected to find herself on the dream-plane, but since she was there, Isabel decided to go see if she could find Liz. Her dream-orb was certainly easy to distinguish – even from the outside it was weak, dark, and small. Isabel worried about Liz. Most people formed dream-orbs for at least a few hours a night. Liz’s mind was trapped too deep in unconsciousness to form dream-orbs more than an hour a day, and she and Max probably missed two-thirds of those opportunities to visit with her because those weren’t hours that they themselves were sleeping. Sometimes she thought the few minutes each night that they could be with her were all that was keeping the girl alive.

    ‘Of course,’ she thought, ‘…sometimes I think they are all that’s keeping Max alive, too.’

    Isabel found the orb fairly quickly – not a whole lot of dream-orbs around in the early afternoon and hers certainly stood out from the crowd. She let her consciousness seep through the wall and enter.

    She sensed Liz in the abyss and floated in her direction. Eventually she heard her – and the sounds of her sobbing almost broke her heart. Isabel suspected that Liz spent most of her time when she was on the abyss sobbing when she and Max weren’t present – heaven knows that’s what Isabel herself would have done. It was like solitary confinement – but worse. It was being the only entity in a gray and black featureless world with no sights, no sounds, and only the noise of your own crying to mark the passage of time. Maria had told her that Liz’s doctors had read of other cases where patients like Liz had their REM sleep – their dreams – just fade away, and she thought she could understand why.

    ‘Who would want to continue in such a featureless existence, if that was all you could ever have?’

    In fact, Liz was hanging in there much better than Isabel thought she would have herself, had the circumstances been reversed. It was only at times like this, when they’d creep in to the dream-orb, that she would give away just how terrified and lonely she was.

    “Hi Liz…”

    “Uh – Isabel…. Hi. Where’s Max.”

    “Max isn’t with me this time,” said Isabel, forgiving Liz the brief look of disappointment. In fact, on the one other time she’d shown up without Max, Liz had clearly been grateful for the company, but she and Max had been friends since third grade, notwithstanding Isabel’s own efforts – now much lamented – to keep them separate. Isabel's developing relationship with the comatose girl was a much more recent occurrence.

    “In fact, I wasn’t exactly planning on being asleep right now myself, it’s just that there was a thunderstorm, the gym was already being used by PE classes, so cheerleader practice was cancelled and we all went to study hall instead. Twenty minutes of reading Mr. Brown’s lecture notes on quadratic equations and I apparently dozed off. What the heck IS a discriminant, anyway?”

    “It’s the part under the square root sign – you know, b squared minus 4 AC.”

    “And is there a purpose in having us learn this, or is Mr. Brown just some sort of a sado-math-isist?”

    “Uh – It’ll get better in a few weeks. You must be in – early second semester?”

    “Yeah, and the slave-driver even gave us homework over the Christmas break…”

    The words were out of her dream-mouth before she actually thought, and she instantly regretted them. Liz had sort of an odd relationship with her and Max in the dream-orb. She was clearly grateful for their company – but, just as clearly, Isabel knew she really didn’t believe they existed. The girl thought they were figments of her comatose imagination.

    It was hard to convince her otherwise – I mean – it all WAS a dream, and that being the case it was impossible to prove to ‘scientist’ Liz that she and Max were really there – or at least their minds were there. It was, in reality, a conundrum. Liz could accept herself – I think, therefore I am – and even extrapolate that to – I dream therefore I am – but efforts – mostly by Max – to convince her that their minds were joined with her in the dream-orb had proven unfruitful.

    Sure, Max could remind her of the experiences they’d shared together - attempting to prove his own existence, but none of those experiences were anything she couldn’t be dreaming herself. Anything they knew that she didn’t – like about the origin and the existence of the pod chamber – Liz could have just as easily been dreaming all on her own.

    Even so though – talking about Christmas was a reminder to Liz that life outside her abyss was going on – and she wasn’t part of it. That had to hurt. Maria had told Isabel that there really hadn't been a Christmas at the Parker residence this year. Liz had been up in Albuquerque – still in the medical center with a broken neck – when Christmas had come, and while the employees put up the usual decorations in the Crashdown, the Parker family residence had gone without even a tree. Even the annual New Year’s party for the senior citizens had been hosted by Maria and Jose, the short-order cook. Liz got a sort of distant stare for a moment, and her eyes seemed to sparkle with unshed tears. She looked away from Isabel a little bit – into the darkness of the abyss – before replying.

    “I suppose time IS going by – it’s hard to tell. When I’m here and I’m not imagining you and Max to keep me company it is hard to tell anything about the passage of time. Sometimes it seems like an eternity.”

    “The eternity so far is about three and a half months – which catches us up to quadratic equations in Algebra I. Of course, you and Max took that last year.”

    “And where is that brother of yours – no, I can guess. If it were really fifth period, he would be in AP biology. Since we are playing this game, I wonder who his new lab partner is?”

    “It isn’t a game, Liz. And Max – Max doesn’t have a lab partner – he’s dropped out of school.”

    “Dropped out? Max? I don’t believe that.”

    “Well, the official term is disenrolled – meaning he gets no grades or credits for this year – that way it doesn’t count against his GPA and he can reenroll later. It’s probably just as well, since he would have otherwise flunked all of first semester anyway.”

    “Now THAT I really don’t believe. No way would Max flunk any class.”

    “Any class that he attends, maybe. Oh God, I never told you about it that one time we were alone, and Max insisted I not bother you with it – but I guess you really ought to know and now is as good a time as any – nobody did all that well with the news of your accident, but Max was pretty devastated by it. We were eating breakfast when he heard about it on the radio. He didn’t really say a word – just got up from the table and went outside – climbed in the jeep and drove to Albuquerque where you had been transferred. He hung around the medical center – eventually was arrested by the Albuquerque police for using stolen codes on the keypads to get in the intensive care unit to sit by your side.”

    Liz smiled a thin smile. “Yeah, well that MIGHT happen – in my DREAMS, but not with the real Max Evans. It would be hard to picture it happening in reality - the guy has spent years avoiding getting too close. But it’s a pleasant story to listen to…”

    “Not all THAT pleasant. We had to go up and bail him out – your father got an injunction to keep Max away from you – …”

    “The REAL Max has been pretty much keeping away from me outside of class for years now without the least need for legal assistance. Your story is doing nothing to improve your credibility as anything other than a figment of my imagination - Izzy.”

    “We explained to you what we are and where we came from – at least, as much of what we are and where we came from as we know – why don’t you believe us?”

    “I guess it’s mainly a principle we use in science. It’s called Occam’s Razor. I can either believe that this is all a dream…”

    “Which it is – we explained that ….”

    “I mean a REAL dream – something that is totally fiction – or I can believe that the guy I’ve always sort of wished would take a deeper interest in me – but who never saw me as anything other than a friend – is actually at least part alien – and despite doing his best to ignore me since puberty actually does love me – that he has come in to my dreams while I’m in a coma….”

    “Actually, I BROUGHT him here – my brother is almost inept when it comes to dream-walking. By himself, he has a range of about six feet – which is about nine hundred-ninety-four feet closer to you than the Superior Court of Chaves county wants him to get – and about a half state closer than your father wants him to get.”

    “OK, that makes it even LESS likely. He couldn’t PERSONALLY come in to my dreams, but he has a sister who not only can, but can let him piggyback along. So now we are up to two aliens who are teenagers – who I have watched grow up to become teenagers – over a half century AFTER the saucer – which was almost certainly a weather balloon anyway – crashed. So now we are up to TWO aliens who ought to be in their sixties at least – one with JUST the power needed to come visit – and another who thinks he can heal me – or can you do that too?”

    Isabel shook her head. “No, as far as healing, I’m the one that’s sort of inept. Oh, a black eye or sprained ankle or something like that – sure – but not anything anywhere near as complicated as what you’ll need. But Max thinks he can.”

    “Max THINKS he can?” asked Liz with an indulgent smile. “So this isn’t something he does for a living or anything? I’m the guinea pig on this?”

    “No – actually I think the guinea pig was Mr. Pibbles….”

    Liz remembered Mr. Pibbles – she even remembered the incident. Mr. Pibbles was a class pet in elementary school. One of the other students was taking it home for a three day weekend, and somehow the cage got knocked open in the hall. Mr. Pibbles had panicked when he had seen the rush of students going home, and managed to run under the stairwell railing and fall almost two floors. The guinea pig had appeared severely injured, and several of the big kids – sixth graders – had said he ought to be put out of his misery.

    Max had grabbed Mr. Pibbles and run off – only to return three days later with a perfectly healthy Mr. Pibbles. Max had claimed the creature had only been stunned and that he had just nursed him back to health. Liz had been surprised – but hadn’t seen any reason NOT to believe Max, and the rest of the class – especially that third grader that was supposed to care for him that weekend – was so happy, nobody really challenged Max about it.

    ‘But that doesn’t prove anything,’ Liz said to herself. ‘I know about Mr. Pibbles and it’s always sort of left me curious – it’s only natural that my subconscious would dredge something like that up – and dream about Isabel Evans saying it.'

    "Knowing about Mr. Pibbles doesn't prove anything. I was there when Max brought him back. Evidently he wasn't hurt nearly as badly as it seemed at first."

    "Mr. Pibbles had a broken back and a severed spinal cord. I watched Max heal him."

    "You can’t heal a severed spinal cord. Nerve cells can't be repaired. Once you sever nerve cells, they never work again."

    "Well, I think you are wrong about that - and you certainly ought to hope you are - because that's precisely what Max intends to do with you. According to your doctors you have damaged cells down in your midbrain. That's part of the brain that allows us to be conscious - that's what Max intends to repair."

    "So how would he do that - assuming I really believed the two of you existed?"

    "First he'd look in to your eyes - only you have to be conscious at the time - because he needs to establish a connection with you."

    "A connection?"

    "He needs to be able to sort of merge his mind with yours..."

    "Like you claim to be doing with what you call dream-walking?"

    "Something like that, only more intense. Dreamwalking - well I just need to nudge a few little areas in your mind ... I mean, you already know what Max and I look like - I just have to activate those memories in your mind and superimpose them on the dream you are already having. The way Max explained it to me is that we are all wired a little bit different - we just learn to live that way as we develop."

    "I read an article in Scientific American about the developmental biology of the human mind that sort of said that - of course, that's probably where I got the idea to dream that you were saying that,” said Liz. "That same article indicated that they didn't even think stem cells could fix damaged nervous tissue, because the stem cells would form neurons that would just randomly bridge across the damaged area. The signals just wouldn't get to the right places."

    "They would if Max were doing the healing - in fact, he'd take the original damaged neurons and link them up with their severed parts if he needed to. He could tell from your mind just what ought to go where - then use molecular manipulation to push the areas back together and restore the original structure."

    "Uh huh," Liz said, obviously skeptical. "So why doesn't Max just fix my busted midbrain while he's here?"

    "It can't work like that. He has to sort of go in to a trance and adjust his brainwaves to yours. Then your mind can serve as his roadmap. But that requires sort of a broadband capability that requires you to be both close and - awake. If he can form a close enough connection he can do it - but he could never do that over a dreamwalk. He couldn't even do it in your presence, if you were still unconscious. Lord knows he tried hard enough up in Albuquerque."

    "Un-huh. Like I said, Occam's razor, the law of parsimony - it's just so much more likely I'm just dreaming - pulling memories of you and Max out of my own subconscious - than that you and Max are actually part alien and invading my mind."

    “I really don’t know what to say, Liz. I mean, it’s easy for me to believe I’m real – after all – I think too. I know that you are real because when Max and I see each other in the real world – we know we were both in here with you,” said Isabel, looking around and motioning at the dark abyss with her hand, “… but having to be in such isolation … this isn’t even a normal dream – I understand that someone could go quietly crazy in here.”

    “Not even quietly,” said Liz, shuddering. “It was worse before I dreamed up you and Max. I wondered if this was what Hell was like – just an eternity of nothingness. Or maybe this was Purgatory – in fact, when you two first showed up I wondered if you weren’t angels, sent to cast judgment on Liz Parker – does she go up? Or down?” said Liz, indicating the directions for what seemed to pass for up and down in the continuing shifting blackness of the abyss.

    “Liz – why can’t you even for a minute consider the possibility that we aren’t a figment of your imagination or – I don’t know – something dredged up by your subconscious to keep you company?”

    “I guess because it just seems more logical the other way,” said Liz. She knew, even as she said it, that it was a lie. She knew what her real fear was – that this was Hell, and her punishment for the wrongs she had committed in her life was to actually come to have hope – hope that she would survive the accident – hope that the guy she’d cared about for all these years really did care that much about her – hope that there really would be a happy ever after someday – then to see those hopes crushed and be left with nothing but the memory of those hopes –stuck in this black abyss.

    But what was worse – far worse – was to believe that everything Liz and Max said was real – but to never wake up enough to be able to have Max heal her. That was her greatest fear. The fear that a loving Max and a kindly Isabel and all her friends and family were waiting for her out there and she would never be able to get to them – that fear was terrorizing.

    “Liz, Max and I aren’t going to let you be alone in here. You’ve got to believe that – and someday – sometime – you are going to open your eyes, and Max will come and make the connection and heal you. You’ve got to believe that.”

    “I just can’t do that,” said Liz. ‘You mean you are too afraid to do that,’ she admitted to herself. “I guess when the day comes that my eyes open and I see the real world – well, if your brother is there and tells me to look deep into his eyes, because he’s going to heal me, THEN I’ll believe,” said Liz.

    Isabel looked away, obviously unhappy and fighting back tears. “Look Liz – if you can’t really believe – could you at least PRETEND you believe? At least when Max is here? Max is barely holding it together right now – if he actually thought that you had no hope, that you didn’t even believe in him – I’m not sure what would happen to him.”

    That wasn’t exactly playing fair, Liz thought – her subconscious playing on her love for Max Evans – even if Max had somehow avoided returning it all these years. On the other hand, what would it hurt?

    “OK Isabel, when I’m dreaming that Max is here, I won’t mention that I know it’s all just a dream. In my position, I guess you even have to appreciate a fantasy your brain gives you to keep occupied – and you and Max seem to be the only show in town.” She said it with as much bravado as she could – like whistling past the graveyard – unable to admit even to herself how desperately she wanted what Isabel and Max were telling her to be true.
Last edited by greywolf on Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/9/2009

Post by greywolf » Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:46 pm

  • Roswell New Mexico only gets about 13 inches of rain in a year, most of that in August when the big moist air masses are sucked up from the Gulf of Mexico by low pressure areas over the mid-plains states. It was unusual for a thunderstorm to hit in February - more unusual still for rain to persist for several hours. As she left the high school to walk to the parking lot and the trusty old black jeep, Isabel was aware of all of that -- of course, it didn't help her present circumstances one bit.

    Had Isabel actually expected to encounter rain, she'd have had Max or her father put the hard cover back on the jeep - or perhaps done it herself this morning - it would have only taken a few minutes - but she hadn't, and the continuing drizzle from the thunderstorm was quickly soaking through her cheerleader outfit. That too had a cover - a matching plastic raincoat - also sitting safely at home - that normally would have enabled her to make the coming rainy journey with only her hair and makeup getting soaked, but the same blind faith in sunny weather that had led them to schedule the cheerleader practice outside, and to leave the jeep hardtop sitting up on the shelf that her father and Max had built for it in their garage, had also led her to leave the plastic raincoat on it's hanger in her closet. It wasn't cold, at least, the late afternoon temperatures were in the low sixties - despite the rain.

    'It can't be helped,' she thought to herself, 'I'm just going to get wet...'

    That thought wasn't strictly accurate, she knew. She could have manipulated the molecules of the air - forcing the water droplets upward and away from her - staying at least fairly dry. In fact, if her parents weren't home she'd do something very much like that the moment she stepped in the door - no sense sending the cheerleader uniform to the dry cleaner when she could do a better and quicker job herself. But that wasn't precisely the sort of thing you wanted do in a high school parking lot surrounded by students that you didn't want to know you were at least part alien. Of course, what you wanted and what you got were sometimes different things, she thought, as she noticed the increasing stares her increasingly sodden uniform was drawing from the students - and particularly the male students in the parking lot. Isabel let her eyes fall to her outfit and the blush started rising in her cheeks almost at once.

    The cheerleaders had two sets of uniforms, one for football season that was heavier and blue in color, one for basketball season that was mostly white with blue highlights, and football season was long past. Her current uniform was designed to be comfortable doing gymnastics on the basketball floor in a warm gym - a warm DRY gym - and with every drop the light sweater top was becoming increasingly transparent. Long before she got home, Isabel decided, she would likely be the winner - and only entrant - of what was in all practical aspects this afternoon's West Roswell High School wet t-shirt contest.

    Isabel really didn't know what to do - the old jeep practically towered over many of the newer cars in the parking lot. She fumbled for the keys, wanting nothing more than to get out of there - but as she went to put the key in the ignition the light coat suddenly draped itself around her shoulders and she found herself sheltered from the rain and the increasing stares of her male classmates - looking at a lanky figure who was now having his own t-shirt soak through - revealing some surprising abs for a computer geek.

    Her smile was instantaneous. "Hi, Alex," she said, surprised at how pleasant the smell of him still clinging to his jacket was - how comforting the warmth his body had left in the jacket was, ... "Uh, thanks for the use of the jacket."

    "Don't mention it, Isabel."

    "Izzy..."

    "Izzy, then. I can get it back from you tomorrow."

    "Alex - would you like to go get a cup of coffee? Then maybe visit Liz?"

    He looked around self-consciously, "Are you sure?"

    "Sure that I want to go see Liz? Or that I want to buy my white knight a cup of coffee? Either way, it doesn't matter. I'm sure on both counts."

    "Well, I just wouldn't want people to think - you know, get the wrong idea..."

    "I think I've always worried too much about what other people think, Alex, " Isabel said, the faintest of blushes again rising in her cheeks, "Besides... I'm not at all sure that it would be the wrong idea."




Last edited by greywolf on Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/12/2009

Post by greywolf » Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:40 am

22 weeks previously

  • She was in her home office – just finishing up with some e-mail on the computer, when she heard the knock at the door. She glanced up to look at her son – he looked pretty upset, but that had sort of become the norm lately.

    “Yes, Max?”

    She remembered the first time she’d seen those brown eyes of his looking up at her, wide-eyed and – she thought – more frightened of her than he was of spending a night naked out on an almost-deserted road in the middle of the desert. He would have bolted then – Diane was pretty sure – had not his sister come to them. Even so, for the first couple years it had been a struggle. It had been difficult for Max to accept his parents as his parents and his home as his home – and even after he did there was always a – distance – between them. She knew he loved her – after the first two years there was never any real doubt about that – but she’d never really been sure that he thought that he needed her. That’s why the first words out of his mouth were so surprising – and in a way she really didn’t understand – gratifying.

    “Mom, I need your help.”

    “You know I’ll do anything I can, Max. What’s the problem?”

    “It’s about Liz…”

    “Max, I’m sorry – there’s just nothing I can do. I spoke to the Parkers and without their consent, the judge is not going to change that restraining order.”

    “I know that, Mom, and I never did thank you for going to them and asking them either, but this is different. This is a new problem. Let me explain.”

    And Max did explain – oh, he didn’t provide the WHOLE explanation, because his mom was 'an officer of the court' after all, so he left out a few facts - that this started as a rumor that Maria had heard from a Physical therapist giving Liz TENS treatments in hopes of forestalling her muscle wasting, that she had told Isabel and Alex - the latter individual having then hacked the hospital computer to get verification.
    But he told her the essential details and as he did he saw her face take on the determined look that he knew so well.

    “Well, Max, I’ll see what I can do,” she said, her eyes looking at him almost as if she could herself make a connection with him. ‘Sometimes,’ he thought, ‘… it really did seem like his mother could see into his soul, even without having any alien powers.’

    “You know – there was a time I would have never believed you would ever think you needed me for anything. I used to watch you when you were first adopted – you were a little on the clumsy side, both you and your sister – I don’t think that you’d had much in the way of exercise. I’d take you to the park – even before you knew how to talk – and sometimes you’d fall playing on the playground equipment. It wasn’t that I wanted you to get hurt – but when you did you were never like the other kids – never came to me to kiss it better. Sometimes I really didn’t feel like you needed me at all.”

    “That’s because I was stupid, Mom. I always needed you – I was just afraid to admit even to myself just how much I needed you – but I found out years ago. Then – well, old habits – even old fears, die hard. When this problem with Liz is over – I want to sit down and talk to you about that time – about why I could never be the son you deserved….”

    She hugged him tight against her. “I didn’t say THAT, it’s just that – well, sometimes I wasn’t sure I was being the mother that you deserved – the mother you needed.”

    “You were the best mother any little boy ever had, Mom – even if I was too much of a jerk to let you know. I just wish I’d been a better son for you then. I know how I acted when Liz had her accident – when I went up to Albuquerque – I know it surprised you, but…”

    “It concerns me, Max, and it concerns your father too, but no – I can’t honestly say it surprised me. You and Liz,” Diane said, appearing to fight back tears, “ … the two of you have got to be the most shy kids in the world. Even way back in grade school it was clear that you cared for her and she cared for you. I’d see you looking at her when she didn’t notice – I’d see her looking at you when you didn’t notice – heck, the two of you spent so much time looking at each other you never noticed me watching the two of you. What also concerns me, Max, is what happens if Liz doesn’t come out of this. It’s a small town, dear, and – well, in my business I have my medical sources. It doesn’t look good for Liz, dear – or so they tell me.”

    “I … I know that, Mom. Honestly? I just don’t know what I’ll do if she never wakes up,” he said, as the tears started falling.

    She pulled his head onto her shoulder and held him close as she felt his body rack with sobs. The little boy who had never once cried on his mother’s shoulder had somehow become a young man – but even so, he would always be her little boy.

    “Well, let’s deal with first things first. This much, at least, I think we can handle. Do you want to help?”

    He knew that he’d really be no help – this was simply his mothers way of making him do something constructive rather than being paralyzed by his fears – but it was a game she played well.

    “OK, Mom – if you want some unskilled labor to assist you rather than someone blubbering on your shoulder – you’ve got it.”

    “Well, the shoulder will always be there if you need it, Max, but right now – let’s see if we can’t do something to help Liz.”

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/15/2009

Post by greywolf » Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:07 am

In the dream orb
  • Isabel felt herself merge into the abyss of the obviously abnormal orb that she now easily recognized as belonging to the comatose girl. Once more her heart wrenched as she heard the girl's sobs – hoping that somehow Liz could eventually become conscious – even if just long enough for Max to successfully connect to her. 'That would be all it would take,' she thought to herself, '...just a few minutes with Max there – that's all it would take.'

    “Hi Liz....”

    The girl looked up with a grateful smile at Isabel's greeting. Izzy smiled as she saw Liz looking past her in to the darkness – It wasn't like she didn't know that Max was the biggest draw here. Her brother and Liz had a million reminiscences to share – it seemed like each could remember each moment they'd spent together perfectly – what they'd done – where they'd been – on virtually any day they'd been together their whole lives. Until this happened she had no idea that Liz had meant so very much to Max – or her to him. Of course, the fact that the two of them damn near seemed to share the same brain did little to convince Liz that in fact Max – and for that matter Isabel herself – weren't simply figments of her imagination. Even so, that being the case, Izzy scarcely felt she could resent playing second fiddle to Max for Liz's affections.

    Isabel smiled gently at Liz as she said, “Sorry – he seemed to be staying up late to work on something with Mom. I have no doubt he'll be in bed before too long – and I'll promise I'll check frequently and bring him in to the orb when he's finally asleep. I'm afraid you are going to have to put up with just me for awhile though.”

    Liz seemed to flush slightly. “Izzy! I'm very grateful for your company,” said Liz, sounding defensive, “ ... even if I do think you're a figment of my imagination.”

    “I know Liz, you make that obvious,” said Izzy, trying not to chuckle, “... but there's no doubt that Max is very much your permanent flavor-of-the-month, so to speak – and I'm glad for that. I'm not sure you realize just how much he does need you. I certainly didn't, before – this – happened. I'm not sure what will happen to him, if we don't get you better.”

    “I'm pleased to be distracted by both of you – although since you are really just my subconscious mind anyway I gotta admit that if the two of you WERE real – well, Max would certainly be the cuddlier of the two.”

    “Well, as long as this is going to be girl talk – I need some advice about asking a guy out on a date.”

    “Ice Princess Isabel? ASKING a guy? Well, there goes your credibility as the real Isabel – know I KNOW you are a figment of my imagination. So tell me – who is this stud? Ted Brady, I bet?”

    Isabel stuck her finger toward her dream throat and acted like she was gagging herself. “Ted Brady? I dated Ted Brady once. I wouldn't wish that arrogant buffoon on – on Pamela Troy, even.”

    “Well who then?” Liz asked, surprised that even in a dream Isabel Evans would seem uncertain of how to handle a guy – of course, this wasn't the real Isabel Evans, she reminded herself – this was Izzy - a dream persona created by her own subconscious.

    The girl's eyes seemed to light up as she said the name.

    “Alex..”

    “Alex who?”

    “Alex Whitman, of course,” Izzy said with apparent indignation.

    Something between a snort and a 'humph' escaped from Liz's mouth and nostrils.

    “No way. No way would Isabel Evans be interested in Alex.”

    “There is NOTHING wrong with Alex,” said an indignant Izzy. “He's not only a great guy, but smart, personable, a real gentleman.”

    “I know there's nothing wrong with Alex, Alex is great, it's just that...”

    “That an icy bitch like Isabel Evans would never have the insight to understand that, I know, Liz, I've already gotten that response from Maria.”

    Liz just shook her head. This was entertaining at least – and a hell of a lot better than the empty abyss. What could it hurt to play along?

    “Well, you have to admit that it doesn't go that well with the Ice Princess stereotype, Izzy, but I wouldn't think you'd have any problem getting Alex – or any boy – to ask you out.”

    “Well, I wouldn't either, but I'm afraid I may have sold him too well on the act. We've had coffee a couple of times but he seems to be shy. I think maybe the whole Ice Princess thing kind of scares him and frankly – the possibility of fouling this up scares me. Dating the other guys was easy – they really didn't care about me. Most wanted to count coup socially by just being seen with me – a few maybe fantasized about getting something they damn sure weren't going to get. I know – because I could see it in their dreams, It's different with Alex. Alex cares about me.”

    “And undoubtedly fantasizes about getting something he's not going to get as well,” said Liz, chuckling briefly until she noticed Izzy blushing deeply.

    “Omigawd,” said Liz, “..You are actually thinking about...”

    “Well not any time soon, that's for sure. I mean, I still haven't gotten him to ask me on a real date yet,” said an obviously embarrassed – and vexed – Izzy.

    “I mean ... how could you if you are an alien and....,” Liz's mouth just hung thre, watching Izzy blush.

    “Well, we are probably only PART alien – I told you that and – well, if you'd ever dreamwalked the guy and really understood how wonderful he was, Liz – let's just say that there are times that this alien girl has dreamed of a few close encounters of a certain kind with Alex of her own. Fortunately – those were dreams – not dreamwalks. If I was actually dreamwalking and it somehow started to turn erotic – well – I'm not sure what I would do,” said Izzy – looking off into the abyss for a few seconds. Then she covered her face with her hands. 'Yes I do – I'd probably frighten the hell out of him – worse than if he thought I WAS a bug-eyed monster. He'd probably die of fright.”

    Liz giggled, even knowing this was all a dream. “Sounds lie he might die happy though – that's something,” she said, getting in to the swing of the conversation.

    “Yeah, but in the REAL world, Liz – should I ask HIM out on a date?”

    “You know, Izzy, I asked myself that question about Max – asked it for years – but before I ever got up nerve enough to do it...” she shrugged her shoulders, “... I somehow wound up here. If what you are really asking is – if I had my life to live over, would I have quit waiting for Max to be so shy and actively tried to get a relationship going, rather than holding back and waiting for him -Yeah, yeah I would.”

    “But would it be fair,” Isabel asked, looking her in the eyes,”... would it be fair to you and Max if I started dating Alex – while you are in here trapped and he is out there scared to death about you never getting out of here? Would it be fair to do that to you and him – since I'm the one that kept you apart?”

    “You didn't make our choices, Izzy, however much you might want to blame yourself. Max and I made those choices. The only choices that you can make are whether or not you put a full-court press on Mr. Alex Whitman. I chose not to do that with Max. If we are going to be friends, the least I can do is let you learn from my mistakes. If it's my blessings you need – you have them. I think Max would want you to take the chance, too.”

    The person who had once been Isabel Evans – and once been terrified of her brother getting close to the
    girl whose dream-orb she was now occupying – had somehow disappeared forever. In her place was a girl called Izzy – who was hugging Liz like a long lost sister. “OK,” she said breaking from the hug,” ... tomorrow, I'll ask him. For right now though, I think I'll see if I can go find your lover-boy. If necessary, I'll wake myself up, go find him, and tell him to get his butt to bed. You get little enough company in here, and he can do his homework for Mom tomorrow.”

    As the figure dissolved into the blackness of the abyss, Liz smiled and shook her head. It was fun pretending – even if none of this was real – and in a surprisingly brief time, she saw Izzy and Max materialize again from deep in the abyss. He ran to her and took her hand, smiling down at her.

    “Will you please tell your sister it's OK for her to have a love-life of her very own?” Liz asked.

    “Yeah – but not now. Now she has to help me stay here with you,” said Max. And he and Izzy did stay for almost an hour before the dream-orb faded as Liz once more dropped out of REM sleep.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/15/2009(2)

Post by greywolf » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:19 am

Twenty-one weeks previously
  • Bob Stevens was trying hard not to make eye contact with Jeff Parker – Jeff knew that. It wasn’t that Bob was upset with him – or thought that Jeff was upset with him either. It was just that – well, they were old friends – and Bob didn’t want anything that could be remotely interpreted as an I-told-you-so expression to appear on his face – the situation was too dire to add to a friends discomfort. It was round two of the fight against claim’s manager Habercrombe and the Guardian Mutual Life Insurance Company, and they were getting their butts whipped.

    It had started as another ‘benefits review’ and, as before, they’d come with Doctors Taylor and Rutherford – each giving Liz’s status assessment and their treatment plans for her. Bob was there to, to provide the imprimatur of the Roswell legal community, backing up the local team. They had run into a buzz saw.

    It wasn’t just the officious Ms. Habercrombe representing the company this time, it was her plus the company’s hired-gun medical consultant plus - not merely one but rather two of the company's high-priced legal talent from the home office. Things had not gone well from the start.

    It seemed to Jeff that the specialist from Chicago had barely looked at Liz - he'd already had copies of her medical records - before pronouncing her chances of recovery to be hopeless. Doctor Taylor and Doctor Rutherford were fighting back, but it seemed like Habercrombe was paying little attention to what they had to say.

    "I have researched this thoroughly," said Doctor Rutherford to the three people from Chicago who were arrayed at the side of Habercrombe like an escort, "... and the retention of REM sleep under these circumstances is apparently unprecedented. Surely that means that there is a chance..."

    "Even if it is unprecedented," commented the insurance company medical consultant, "... all that would mean is that you didn't know WHAT it means, because it has never happened - or at least not been noticed - before. But even that would not really be surprising -I'm not sure our company has never wasted quite this much money on anyone who was so unlikely to recover."

    "I don't think it is a WASTE to give a sixteen year-old girl a chance at life, Doctor," said Jeff Parker, partly rising from the table in the conference room despite Bob Stevens trying to calm him with a hand to his forearm.

    The senior lawyer's face took on an expression of professional sympathy - akin to that of an undertaker - and quickly replied, "Mr. Parker, believe me, we all understand your pain here - but we didn't cause it. It is not Doctor Gillingham's fault - or the company's fault either, for that matter, that your daughter was so terrible injured in this accident."

    "Yes," said the junior attorney, nodding gravely. "I've always believed the laws should be more restrictive on these newly licensed teenage drivers – that they shouldn't be allowed to drive at night until they have a few years experience driving. Maybe then they wouldn't get in these expensive accidents.”

    Jeff bit his tongue, trying not to get distracted into an emotional argument. The junior lawyer had made innuendos three times now, like it was somehow Liz's parents fault that Liz had been hurt – that Liz herself had been at fault, when the bastard knew damn well that the other driver had been drunk – had crossed the double yellow line – had in fact been solely responsible for the accident. But his tactic was working – every time he said something like that Jeff knew he felt guilty – and castigated himself yet again – as he had thousands of time since the accident, for not taking Maria home that night himself. And every time his mind went into 'guilt mode,' Jeff lost concentration – making it easier yet for them to steamroller their agenda through – an agenda which as clearly meant to be cutting off all rehabilitative services to Liz, and leaving her in a minimal care nursing home where her muscles would atrophy quicker, where her joints would stiffen from disuse, and where – ultimately – would simply die of neglect when the few personnel available for all the residents would be unable to handle the demands of care a comatose person required.

    It was clear that this team was good at this game – clear that they had done it numerous times before – and clear to Jeff that their side was outclassed, and in real danger of losing this battle. He had to do something.

    “Look, I’ve had this insurance for years – I haven’t stinted in buying what I was told – by your own agents – was good coverage – coverage that would provide the finest care when it was required…”

    That was as far as his comment got, before it was interrupted by the senior of the two insurance company lawyers.

    “But that, Mr. Parker, is precisely the issue. Section nine, paragraph fourteen of your policy CLEARLY states that the company is only obligated to provide REQUIRED care, and that for care to be REQUIRED, it must have some likelihood of actually improving the health of the insured. In the opinion of our consultant, there is no likelihood of your daughter EVER being restored to any condition substantially better than what she has now. Under those conditions we are only obligated to provide basic nursing care – and that can most economically be done in a nursing home. In all fairness to the REST of our policyholders, we can scarcely allow Ms. Habercrombe to WASTE money on your daughter that could otherwise be used to provide care to other policyholders, now could we?”

    “But Doctor Taylor and Doctor Rutherford say ….”

    “Doctor Taylor and Doctor Rutherford have THEORIES, but the controlling opinion under terms of your policy is the company’s own consultant.”
Last edited by greywolf on Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/20/2009

Post by greywolf » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:27 am

“Actually,” came the voice from the rear of the conference room, “…the controlling authority is section 59A-57-4, section 59A-57-4.1, and 59A-57-5 of the state of New Mexico Code – specifying patient rights, external grievance appeals, and ombudsman procedures for all buyers of healthcare insurance in the State of New Mexico. Since those procedures are MANDATED BY STATE LAW, they take precedence over any terms in your contract – something I’ve discussed with Ms. Habercrombe personally on several previous occasions involving previous clients of mine, and something that I find it difficult to believe that the entire legal department of your company wouldn’t have known – since your company takes in over $22 million in healthcare insurance premiums annually in this state.”

All eight heads turned simultaneously to look toward the back of the room

“And who would YOU be?” asked the older company lawyer.

“Uh – that would be Diane Evans,” answered Ms.Habercrombe, “… I, uh, ….sent you several memos about her over other cases.”

Diane was angry – however confused and frightened she was of some of Max’s actions toward Liz Parker, it was clear that he cared for the injured girl greatly, and the fact that these conniving weaselly bastards were threatening the treatment of Liz Parker meant they were also causing her son pain. She was wearing her tweed pantsuit with a red scarf – what her kids laughingly called her battle dress – but there was nothing humorous about what she saw going on in front of her. What these people were doing was despicable, and as a lawyer she was appalled by it, as a human being she was sickened by it, and as a mother whose child was being hurt – however indirectly – by their half-truths and schemes for denying the coverage that Liz Parker needed and was legally entitled to – well, two could play that game, she decided.

“Yes,” she said with a smile that somehow didn’t seem at all friendly to the two lawyers sitting with Ms. Habercrombe, “…I am Diane Evans – attorney at law. Sorry to be late, Bob,” she said, nodding to Bob Stevens sitting next to Jeff Parker. “I was unavoidably detained in Judge Lopez’s court, preparing a summons for her signature, or I would have been here sooner.”

Stevens nodded back convincingly – almost as if he had actually known she was going to be showing up – and his face brightened considerably. Diane walked to the table next to Bob Stevens, placed her briefcase down and opened it – then looked at the opposing lawyers with a smile on her face that seemed somehow reminiscent of a shark approaching dinner.

“Now what,” she asked, “… is this ridiculous crap that you think you are going to be allowed to discontinue Miss Parker’s rehabilitation care?”

Jeff Parker felt a chill go through him as he heard Diane’s tone, suddenly glad that Bob Stevens sat between the two of them. Jeff had felt sorry for her when he'd met her previously believing her to no doubt be a good person who just hadn't had the strength of personality to straighten out whatever psychological damage had occurred to her foundling stalker son before she'd adopted him. He'd believed her a kindly person - but just too passive to be able to control and correct her adopted child. That belief had changed radically in the last minute. Whatever Max's problems, they did not stem from an unassertive mother.

Somehow, this wasn’t the same Diane Evans who had come to him in tears – begging that her son be allowed to visit Liz. No, this was a major league predator – in her element. As he looked at the apprehension in the faces of the lawyers from the insurance company he started to hope that maybe things were going Liz's way....
Last edited by greywolf on Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/21/2009

Post by nitpick23 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:26 am

Way to go Diane!!!! Loved Jeff's impression of her - a predator in her element. Hope she feasts on insurance company stooges.

It really shouldn't come down to something like this but the legal system in the US and probably elsewhere in the western world is geared towards generating billable hours for lawyers. Where a simple sentence would be enough they use a few confusing paragraphs that only another lawyer would understand. The judges, who are suppose to uphold the law and provide justice just feed the legal system's need for more lawyers, and again, more billable hours.

What did the King say in one of Shakespeare's play, "Kill all the lawyers." And that was way in advance of the Warren court.

Now that Diane is a little more composed I hope that she and Jeff can have a good conversation concerning Max and Liz. Don't know if Jeff is going to be all squishy and forgiving to Max and treat him like the son he never had but at least he might be more open to relaxing some of the restrictions of the restraining order.

Some insurance companies in NY State just got their asses kicked by the AG. Seems that they were fixing the price of what was considered "just and reasonable" charges for "out of plan" medical fees. Paid a bundle to the state and an independent commission/agency will determine costs in the future. Of course like all setlements like this they admitted no wrong doing and no guilt.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 1/21/2009

Post by greywolf » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:49 am

The senior lawyer for the insurance company sat back in his seat, trying to radiate reassurance to his junior colleague and to Habercrombe who appeared visibly shaken by the appearance of this woman. He was an old hand at this – bluffing the policyholder and taking advantage of the ignorance of the man’s personal lawyer were not the only weapons in his arsenal.

“As I was pointing out to Mr. Stevens and Mr. Parker, under the terms of the insurance contract, the opinion of a disinterested physician – in this case Doctor Gillingham – carry’s more weight than that of physicians who are clearly biased in favor of their patient in the claims manager making her assessments of benefits owed, Ms. Evans. Certainly, Ms. Habercrombe’s assessment CAN be challenged through the Insurance Commissioners ombudsman and appeal process, but pending that appeal, her decision is binding under the contract. Unfortunately, it may be several months until my colleagues and I will be able to get back for that appeal.”

“But Liz needs the care NOW,” protested Jeff Parker.

“That’s right,” agreed Doctor Rutherford. “The care is required to keep her joints mobilized and her muscles from atrophying further – if you interrupt it for two months, she’ll never recover the joint mobility – and she won’t be able to put back the muscle mass she’ll lose – not being fed through a feeding tube lying in bed.”

“All of which is irrelevant – since the girl will never recover in any event,” said the lawyer, a smug smile on his face.

“Actually, what is GOING to happen is that Ms. Habercrombe is going to authorize the payments that are already owed to the Roswell Medical Center for care that has been provided,” said Diane Evans, “… and she is going to authorize all care deemed necessary by Miss Parkers physicians UNTIL the appeal is decided in Albuquerque – that’s the law in this state – so you can take as long as you wish to schedule the appeal – but unless and until you WIN that appeal, you WILL be paying the young lady’s bills.”

“On that I’m afraid we’ll just have to agree to differ, Ms. Evans,” said the lawyer, collecting the paperwork in front of him and stuffing it in his own briefcase. “I’m afraid this meeting is at an end – my colleague and I will be returning to Chicago with Doctor Gillingham and we’ll discuss the situation with the accounting department – perhaps we can induce them to pay the benefits coming to the hospital for Miss Parker’s care to this date – perhaps not. But unless you would care to come to Illinois – to try to press your claim in OUR state courts, I think that any further payments are out of the question, until a final determination is made.”

“Is that so?” asked Diane Evans, with what Jeff Parker believed to be altogether too much calm. Didn’t she realize what this meant? If they had to wait for months, Liz’s chance of recovery just went from – well, certainly not very good – to nothing. Then he saw Diane Evans nod to a uniformed man who had just come in at the back of the room.

“Ahh, Sheriff Valenti,” said Diane with a smile, “What are YOU doing here?”

Locked