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 11/7/2008

Post by greywolf » Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:06 am

".... to love, comfort, honor and keep you, Elizabeth," intoned Max in the dream orb, looking in to the eyes of his beloved
  • Eight months ago

    They had been trying for weeks – without any real success – to find their way into her orb. It was in many respects like pushing against jello – the orb just seemed to move away from them when they tried to enter it. The problem – according to Izzie – was that the orb itself wasn’t normal. It waxed and waned but rarely got to be what Izzy would call ‘solid.’ Max supposed this was because Liz’s own level of mental function was so low. Perhaps she was dreaming – but the dreams were neither frequent nor normal. Worse yet, he and Isabel could only attempt it at night when they themselves were sleeping. For all they knew, Liz was now dreaming on a different schedule since she seemed to be comatose, day or night.

    After night after night of failure, he’d noticed that Izzie herself was starting to doubt that they could ever be successful – and that worried Max even more. He feared that if Liz was aware in there – trapped somehow in her mind – she must be slowly going insane. But tonight – tonight was different. As Isabel’s orb touched against the orb of Liz Parker, Max felt her presence in his soul – felt her despair – heard her sobs in his mind.

    “Liz…,” he cried out with his mind.

    The orb seemed to gain substance as the sobs slowed. He cried out again, “Liz …”

    Her orb seemed to gain even more substance, as he heard a faint reply, “Is someone there?”

    He felt Isabel push and he pushed with her – forcing the dream orbs against each other – straining to make them merge. It was hard – Liz’s orb had so little substance – but at last the walls merged and the orbs combined like two soap bubbles becoming one. It seemed for an instant like all the light had been sucked out of the universe. Liz’s orb was dark – devoid of the memories of living that are a part of most dreams – stripped to the minimum that would allow an orb to exist. It took them awhile to follow her thoughts and find her in the darkness. She looked at them like they were ghosts – like they weren’t real – like she had indeed lost her mind.

    “Liz – can you see me?”

    “Max? It can’t be Max – I’m going insane”

    He went to her and held her, while her body was wracked with sobs. “Am I in purgatory? I always thought that was a myth – or is this Hell? I died, didn’t I? I died in the car accident?”

    “No Liz – you didn’t die. You were hurt – your brain was injured and you have been in a coma. You have to wake up – even just for a few minutes. If you can do that, it’ll be OK…”

‘But she hasn’t awakened, Max told himself, and maybe there was nothing he could do that would ever get her to awaken, ‘but at least we can have this – at least she’ll know how much I care for her…,’ but even as he had the thought he knew that he was fooling himself. He could sense her thoughts in the dream-orb. Liz still didn’t believe that he or Isabel were real, and in truth they weren’t. It was all just a dream. But as he saw Liz smile a tentative smile at him, he understood the truth. Even believing this to be a dream, it still was important to her. Sometimes you only have your dreams to sustain you, she had told him a few months ago. Maybe this would sustain her longer – keep her from going insane. He hadn’t the heart to tell her that the doctors had given up on her. It had been a year since her accident and she still only had these few hours of REM sleep each day, and she was no longer improving. What she needed was a miracle and he had no idea if he could ever provide that miracle. But if Liz was going to spend an eternity in Purgatory, she would at least have him for company. That much he could do….

“In sickness and health…” said Isabel looking at her brother and his bride.

“In sickness and in health…,” said Max.
Last edited by greywolf on Sat Nov 29, 2008 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 11/28/2008

Post by greywolf » Sat Nov 29, 2008 10:46 am

Eight months ago
  • “I’m not sure you really understand the implications of what your insurance company is asking…,” said Dr. Rutherford

    Dr. James Rutherford was the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist at Roswell Medical Center, and he had cornered Jeff Parker on a visit to see his comatose daughter.

    “Well what they told me, Dr. Rutherford, was that Liz no longer required the level of care to keep her in the medical center. Now that her neck is OK, that she no longer has to have intravenous tubes and can be fed by a feeding tube, that she could now go to a facility with a lower level of care.”

    “Well, THAT much I’d agree with. At this point your daughter ought to be transferred to a different level of care – but she ought to go to the rehabilitation ward – at least until we know for sure if she is ever going to get to a higher level of consciousness.”

    “But her case manager assured me that the care she needs could be done at the nursing home…”

    “Mr. Parker – I’m not sure you understand. If we are going to just give up on your daughter – assume she will never regain any meaningful level of function – we could do that. But the level of nursing and physical therapy care at a nursing home simply isn’t that good. Yes, they will feed her – change her diapers occasionally – but they won’t have the staffing to do much more than that. Twenty minutes a day of physical therapy won’t be enough to stop her muscles from atrophying from disuse – or her joints from stiffening up from inactivity. A body just can’t lay there, Mr. Parker, not even one as young as your daughter’s. If it does it deteriorates quickly. Liz is at tremendous risk for bedsores – infection – pneumonia – disuse atrophy. She needs a LOT of physical therapy – transdermal muscle stimulation – joint mobilization.

    Mr. Parker, if that isn’t done, even if your daughter wakes up six months from now, she’ll never regain normal function again.”

    “But why would the case manager tell me otherwise?”

    “The difference in what your insurance company will pay between a nursing home and a rehab hospital is substantial, and if your daughter were eighty years old, maybe I’d even agree. But she isn’t even seventeen yet. Young people have been known to recover from something like this – even after six or eight months. It’s unusual, but not unheard of. The tragedy would be if your daughter does wake up – but is a cripple because she wasn’t taken care of while she was asleep. You can’t let that happen, Mr. Parker.”

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 11/29/2008

Post by greywolf » Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:13 am

eight months ago
  • The sign said, Emily Taylor, MD, FACS, and she had been Liz’s trauma surgeon the night of the accident – a night that in some ways seemed only yesterday, and in other ways seemed like an eternity ago to Mr. and Mrs. Parker. She was still, officially, managing Liz’s case, although most of the day to day work was being done by the physical therapists and Dr. Rutherford.

    “I’m very concerned about what the insurance company is talking about, Dr. Taylor,” said Jeff Parker. “… the case manager told me that Liz was stable and no longer required special care, Dr. Rutherford is telling me something altogether different. My wife and I were wondering if you could explain what’s really going on, and what you think is best.”

    “I’ll certainly try, Mr. Parker. I realize that you and your wife aren’t neurosurgeons – well neither am I for that matter – but I can give you a layman’s explanation that will be pretty close to what we think is going on inside Liz’s brain right now. Here is one of her MRIs taken shortly after the accident. The silvery region here that is sort of shaped like a teardrop – that’s an area of injury. That area of injury is right in the brainstem. The brainstem has a lot of important functions, and despite the injury here, most of your daughter’s brainstem functions are actually quite normal. What is NOT normal is what is called the reticular activating system that is, in part, based in the brainstem. The reticular activating system allows us to sustain consciousness. Your daughter has a rather tiny area of injury, but it is in a critically important place. Most of the time she is in a deep sleep. We’ve monitored her level of consciousness with 24 hour EEGs and she remains uniformly unconscious, but the polysomnograph also shows that she gets intervals of REM sleep even though she is unconscious. This level of activity suggests that she gets to a level of dreaming in her sleep that is just below the threshold for wakefulness. I don’t want to give you false hope, but the REM sleep would suggest that deep within her brain, Liz is still there – still capable of someday being recovered. The problem is, the odds of that happening are not good, and they are getting worse with every passing week.”

    “Why is that?” asked Nancy. “I would think the more time that passed, the more she would heal.”

    "It doesn’t quite work that way, Mrs. Parker. Nervous tissue – like the brain – has almost no capacity to heal. When there is an injury some of the nerve fibers die, and those are gone forever. Some are OK. Some are just sort of stunned. The stunned ones have injuries at the microcellular level that eventually they either recover from or they too die. As time goes by, fewer and fewer of these fibers are in a stunned state – they either recover, or die. That’s why – particularly in this case – time isn’t on our side.”

    “Why particularly in this case,” asked Jeff.

    “I talked to the head of neurology back where I did my trauma fellowship, and he indicated that he’d had a few patients like Liz who did have REM sleep patterns. Gradually, each of them just faded away. It was like the brains could never really get through to the outside world and – deprived of the mental stimulation – they just sort of gave up. The REM sleep got less and less with each passing day. For whatever reason, Liz isn’t doing that. In fact, she started to increase her REM sleep time after the first several months, and it has now plateaued at a level that gives her about four hours a day of dreams. That is really quite remarkable according to my friend. It’s like something inside her is stimulating her – keeping her going. Unfortunately, we just don’t know what the endpoint will be.”

    “Can she ever wake up?” asked Nancy.

    “Can she? Sure…,” replied Dr. Taylor. “People have awakened ten – fifteen years after being in a coma. WILL she awaken …? That’s a different issue. The odds are certainly against it, and they grow worse every day. Most of the people who have recovered from long term comas have a totally different problem than your daughter. They have a large diffuse injury. The damage itself is modest – although they have a lot of stunned fibers. Eventually enough of these fibers get better that there is a critical mass and – well, the brain just starts to work again. The situation with Liz is quite a bit different. I would expect that even if your daughter somehow managed to get her reticular activating system back on line enough to regain consciousness, she would be functional for only a few minutes a day – a few hours at most.”

    ”Is there anything we can do? Is there some sort of surgery?” asked Jeff.

    “There is no established treatment at this point other than supportive care. There are experimental things – deep brain stimulation, for instance. One patient who had been comatose for six years improved after implantation of electrodes into his brain. His level of coma was far higher than Liz’s, but he was older, too. Perhaps that’s something they could consider at a neurosurgical institute, but I have to warn you, even the one individual who improved didn’t get back anywhere near normal functioning. He got back to consciousness – could sometimes feed himself, remember half of the Pledge of Allegiance. Even if it rouses Liz, it may not bring her back to a level of consciousness that would give her much quality of life.”

    “So there’s nothing we can do?” asked Nancy.

    “We aren’t exactly doing nothing – we are keeping her body intact – buying her time to heal herself. Perhaps she can do it, perhaps she can’t. But we can at least give her the chance.”

    “So how much longer will the insurance company let us keep her in rehab?”

    “Well, I’ll certainly fight to keep her there as long as I can, Mr. Parker. But I’m really not in control of that...."

Last edited by greywolf on Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 12/12/2008

Post by greywolf » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:29 am

Seven months ago…
  • “That’s the fourth time I’ve seen him standing there,” said Jeff Parker as they drove away from the rehabilitation ward.

    They had been visiting Liz. They were impressed with the effort the people in the rehab ward were making with Liz. She required an incredible amount of care. The nursing personnel were constantly turning her to avoid having her get decubitus ulcers – bedsores – and the physical therapy personnel were constantly mobilizing her joints to avoid having the muscles contract and freeze them in position – something called a joint contracture. What they hadn’t seen though, was any evidence of improvement. In fact, their daughter seemed to be wasting away before their eyes. The nursing personnel had explained, it wasn’t for lack of nutrition – the feeding tube continuously dribbled the calories she needed into her stomach. No, the problem was lack of exercise. Despite the proteins in her diet, her muscles were gradually atrophying away due to disuse. They were using electrical stimulation of her muscles to try to slow the wasting, but Liz – who had always been somewhat on the slight side – had already lost almost twenty-pounds from the muscle wasting.

    “He isn’t hurting anything, Jeff, and he’s outside the distance specified in the court order.”

    “It still gives me the creeps, seeing him – stalking – her like that.”

    ”Well, at least he still cares about her. You might have noticed that except for Maria and Alex, most of Liz’s other friends have stopped coming to visit her.”

    “Well, with what Dr. Kenton has been telling us, that’s to be expected, I guess.”

    Jeff and Nancy had been seeing Dr. Kenton – a psychologist affiliated with the trauma center – for counselling to help them deal with their own stresses related to Liz’s injury. He had explained to them about the grieving process and how some of Liz’s friends would shy away from visiting her, since it forced them to confront their own mortality.

    “Even so,” Jeff continued, “…it still makes the hair stand up on my neck to see him always standing there.”

    ”You know what he’s doing, don’t you?”

    “No – not exactly.”

    “Maria told me. Anyone who goes by him who he knows and thinks might have visited Liz – he asks them how she is doing – if there is any sign she’s waking up – that sort of thing. According to Maria, he has disenrolled from school. He told his parent he can’t handle the stress without knowing what’s happening to Liz.”

    ”That’s – crazy! The two of them never even dated?”

    “And why is that important.”

    “Because it’s just not normal that he wouldn’t have anything to do with her when she was alive and could defend herself – but now that she’s helpless, he can’t leave her alone, that’s why.”

    “But what if it was something else? What if he always cared for her, but it was – I don’t know, too soon, maybe?”

    “Too soon? What does THAT mean?”

    “Tell me the truth now, Jeff, if our daughter HAD started dating Max Evans – and like Maria said, she’d always had a crush on him, and now it turns out that he’d always had a crush on her – let’s say they decided they wanted to go steady – or better yet – a serious adult relationship, would you have allowed it?”

    “Of course not. Liz is hardly past sixteen.”

    “Well, it just seems to me that in all fairness you can’t be upset with the young man for NOT being serious about Liz on the one hand when you admit that you wouldn’t have allowed him to be serious with her if he had wanted to.”

    “Now you are just confusing me.”

    “I guess what I am saying is – we aren’t the only ones hurting because of what’s happened to Liz. Maybe we should agree with what his mother asked – let him visit her when we visit her sometimes. It might help him out – and what could it hurt?”

    “What it could do is to encourage him, that’s what. I think the cops in Albuquerque probably know what they are doing. If they say he’s a stalker, I think we ought to keep him as far as possible away from Liz. She has enough problems of her own right now. I don’t intend to have visiting her be ‘therapy’ for somebody who is not acting wholly rational himself. Don’t you remember what he was doing in Albuquerque? My God, Liz had a broken neck and he was putting his hands on her head – he could have killed her.”

    “Maybe you are right,” said Nancy.

    “Look, I’m not trying to be an ogre here, Nancy. We can talk the situation over with Dr. Kenton – he’s the psychologist. We’ll see what he says, OK?”

    “OK, I guess.”

    ”What’s wrong, Nancy?”

    “It’s just that when I see Max – when I look in his eyes – I see the same pain that I feel, that’s all. I know what I’m going through and if he does care for her even a fraction as much – well, I don’t want to make his pain any worse, that’s all.”

    Jeff nodded soundlessly. Nancy had a good heart – she always had. It wasn’t that what she said didn’t make sense but it was one more worry he didn’t need. He was going to see his lawyer tomorrow. The case manager for the insurance company was insisting that Liz be moved to a nursing home within the next week or they would stop payment for medical treatment. After that they would have the money from the liability insurance of the drunk. Unfortunately the insurance he had carried – required under New Mexico law – was for only $25,000. At over $2500 a day for the room and medical services, that wouldn’t last long. After that they would be burning their savings at a rapid rate.

    “Let’s just see what Dr. Kenton says – then we can talk about it,” Jeff said. He had a lot to worry about – too much to seriously think about Max Evans right now.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 12/13/2008

Post by greywolf » Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:20 pm

“… forsaking all others,” said Max in the dream-orb, holding her hand and looking in to her eyes…

  • seven months ago

    “In his classic study,” said Dr. Keaton, “.. Doctor Mullen described five kinds of stalker.
    These are :
    Rejected stalkers pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination).
    Resentful stalkers pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims – motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
    Intimacy seekers seek to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. To them, the victim is a long-sought-after soul mate, and they were 'meant' to be together.
    Incompetent suitors, despite poor social or courting skills, have a fixation, or in some cases a sense of entitlement to an intimate relationship with those who have attracted their amorous interest. Their victims are most often already in a dating relationship with someone else.
    Predatory stalkers spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack – usually sexual – on the victim.

    It would appear that this boy was on cordial enough terms with your daughter – they cooperated as lab partners in science courses, but neither really initiated any sort of boy-girl relationship, although from what you describe, both apparently dreamed about doing just that. That would kind of rule out this young man being either of the first two categories – the fourth category as well, since there was no dating relationship whatever.
    By elimination, that would leave only intimacy seeker or predatory stalker. Without actually talking to the boy I would be real reluctant to try to choose between those two – assuming of course that he IS a stalker at all.”

    “I’m not sure I understand that, doctor,” said Jeff Parker. “I mean, it’s clear he meets the definition of a stalker. How can you doubt that?”

    “Diagnoses in psychology are sometimes dependent on a lot of things external to the client himself, Mr. Parker. Oftentimes the diagnosis is TOTALLY dependent upon something EXTERNAL to the individual. Someone may have an obsession to do something – like not wear clothes – which in one culture is entirely impermissible – but which is totally permissible in another, for instance. In a nudist colony, the guy wearing clothes is the one that’s not quite ‘normal.’
    In the case at hand, what this young man is doing would certainly be considered unacceptable if your daughter complained about it – expressed her displeasure – and he kept doing it. If, on the other hand, she reciprocated these feelings – well, then it would be a serious case of puppy love or, who knows, perhaps even the genuine article, and not pathological at all.”

    “How can it be anything but pathological – she’s in a coma, for Pete’s sake?”

    “Clearly it is an unusual case. The thing is – if she were aware – did approve – if she could give what we call informed consent in the medical world – then the boy would NOT qualify as a stalker. Since she is medically incapable of having an opinion that leaves us in a little bit of limbo. I know, that sounds academic – clearly it isn’t like she is capable of consenting to the relationship either and it is apparent that society has, through the court order, expressed it’s opinion. Under normal circumstances that should have been an adequate signal for him to back off, but it all depends.”

    “All depends on what?”

    “If he really is a stalker – or really cares for her that much.”

    “This is crazy. That’s a circular argument.”

    “Welcome to the crazy world of psychology, Mr. Parker,” Dr. Kenton said with a smile. But I understand your confusion and since it is clear that your daughter can’t consent to any sort of a relationship with the young man, I too think that he’s stalking her.”

    “But you said yourself,” said Nancy, “… that he may really care for her. Perhaps when she wakes up – when she knows how much he cares – perhaps then my daughter WILL reciprocate his feelings.”

    “I wish it were that way, Mrs. Parker, but I think that’s an element of wishful thinking on your part, and we’ve talked in past sessions about denial. As much as I wish it could happen, I can tell you for certain – this isn’t a fairy tale wherein your daughter is playing the role of the enchanted sleeping princess, and this boy will be her Prince Charming who will kiss her and she will wake up and they will live happily ever after. You do understand that, don’t you?”

    “I guess so,” said Nancy. They had worked for several sessions on getting her to the final stage of grieving. That stage was acceptance. But she knew she wasn’t there yet. She was still looking for some magic cure that would make Liz all better again. She had to make herself understand that wasn’t going to happen. Even so, if she couldn’t help her own child, maybe she could help Diane Evans’ child. “But do you think it would do any harm to let Max visit with Liz – as long as we were there to supervise, that is?”

    “Unfortunately, the greatest likelihood is that the Albuquerque police were right and he is indeed a stalker. It’s not like the police don’t have adequate experience with these cases. All stalkers have a fixation on the individual they are stalking. This is believed to stem from deficiencies in their psychosexual development. The period up to age six is critical for this, but if I recall the history of this boy and his sister, they were found wandering naked in the desert at age six, so severely traumatized they had no memories of the preceding six years of their lives. They certainly suffered deprivation during that time – what kind of biological parents would abandon them naked in the middle of the desert? Were they also sexually abused? One would suspect so. Granted, they have been well taken care of for ten years now, but that degree of childhood trauma – that is something that it’s unlikely any human being could really have overcome.

    I think it’s important that neither of you really blame the boy for this – it’s unlikely he can help himself – still, to intentionally expose him to the presence of your daughter would likely feed his fixation even further. Regardless of the precautions you take so he had no opportunity to actually hurt your daughter, it is very questionable if it would be in the boy’s best interest, even notwithstanding any risk to your daughter.

    Let’s take the best case scenario – that he is an intimacy seeker.
    Intimacy seekers begin stalking with the aim of realizing a relationship with a person who has engaged their affections, or whom they erroneously believe already loves them. They are in love and endow their target with uniquely desirable qualities. They persist in their pursuit despite, or oblivious to, the reactions of the victim – and in this case, your daughter can’t even tell the boy no.
    At the onset of the stalking, intimacy seekers are almost invariably
    living lonely isolated lives devoid of intimacy. This very much sounds like the history of this boy. The fantasized relationship and the pursuit provide a pseudo-solution to their dilemma and it is this that reinforces and sustains the behavior. Intimacy seekers not infrequently have a major mental disorder associated with an erotomanic syndrome.

    “Excuse me….erotomanic syndrome?” said Jeff.

    “A fancy name for unrequited love. But the problem you may provoke is this; intimacy seekers are virtually impervious to judicial sanctions, often boasting of their ‘persecution’ and imprisonment as the price they are paying for true love. The only effective role for the courts in stopping this type of stalking is to ensure mandatory psychiatric treatment.
    The focus of management in intimacy seekers is on the underlying mental disorder and the erotomanic syndrome. This should be coupled with efforts to overcome the social isolation and the lack of social competency that sustains it. I am, frankly, surprised that this boy has not already violated the restraining order. Most intimacy seekers will. I am afraid if you let this boy get even closer to the object of his fixation, you risk causing him to lose control to an even greater degree. He is in trouble already, and it is affecting both his academic status and his social situation.”

    “How do you know that?”

    “Well, you’ve told me he has withdrawn from school – that is a serious disruption of his academic status, and – well, I might as well tell you the story. I’ve seen his mother taking him into the office of a colleague of mine down the hall a few offices. Both are stony-faced as they enter, the boy is still stony-faced – and the mother in tears – when they come out. I know the mother, you see, she did some legal work for me. Neither of them are my client and if they were, I couldn’t tell you even as much as I already have, but it is apparent from the body language of Mrs. Evans that the sessions aren’t going well.”

    “But what if you are wrong?” asked Nancy. “What if he isn’t an ‘intimacy seeker’ at all?”

    Dr. Kenton shook his head sadly. “I told you that intimacy seeker was the BEST case scenario if he was a stalker, Mrs. Parker. The WORST case scenario is that he is a predatory stalker. A predatory stalker stalks his victim as part of a plan to attack her, usually sexually. Typically, he is motivated by the promise of sexual gratification and power over his victim. Such an individual often has poor self-esteem and is sexually deviant. They often have poor social skills, especially in romantic relationships. And they often engage in surveillance of their intended victim, trying to come up with a plan to allow the to commit a successful sexual assault. If that is the situation with this boy, you DEFINITELY don’t want him anywhere near your daughter.
    No, Mr. and Mrs. Parker, once you rule out this boy being a Prince Charming whose kiss is going to break the spell and wake up the enchanted princess, I really can’t see any potential upside to allowing this young man to visit your daughter, supervised or otherwise. In fact, I’d say the risks of something bad happening –for either the boy, your daughter, or both – if that were to occur are considerable.”

    “Don’t worry, doctor,” said Jeff Parker, “… we aren’t letting that boy anywhere near our Liz…”

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 12/15/2008

Post by greywolf » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:07 pm

  • “Max – you can’t do this. You are placing your entire future in jeopardy,” said Philip Evans.

    “School is important, Max. You can’t just decide to quit,” said a tearful Diane.

    “What good is school? Can going to school bring Liz back? If it can’t do that, why bother?” Max asked as he sat on the chair in the family room.

    “Son, I don’t understand…,” said Philip. “I can understand you being upset about your lab partner, but you’ve got to put this behind you. What happened to her is not your fault, and there is nothing you can do about it in any event. You need to think about your own future.”

    “I am NOT going to be in class if she starts to wake up. If she does, I need to be close – where I can see her before she loses consciousness again. That’s more important than any class,” said Max, storming out of the family room. The slam of his bedroom door came only seconds later.

    “I think the psychologist is right, Diane. Since her accident, he has fixated on this young lady to the exclusion of everything else. Somehow we need to break this spell he’s under. Maybe we should send him to that military prep school in Texas he was telling us about. Maybe if Max were away from her, he’d come back to reality here. Otherwise, I think he might truly destroy his life.”

    Diane’s head was nodding sadly in agreement – until a voice came form the corner of the room. “Don’t do it,” said Isabel. “Please – please don’t so it.”

    “Honey, we only want what is best for your brother,” started Philip.

    “So did I, daddy,” said Isabel. “I thought I was doing what was best for him, keeping them apart. I thought that for eight years – ever since the third grade. I was wrong, daddy – and so are you if you try to keep Max away from her. I don’t know why – I don’t know how – but Max needs Liz – he always has.”

    “I don’t understand, dear,” said Philip, “Max has never shown any particular interest in girls at all – why would this girl affect him so much?”

    “I told you, daddy, I’m not sure myself. But when Max and I came here – it wasn’t the same for him. This was home for me – all the home I needed or wanted. Somehow it wasn’t enough for Max. It isn’t that he doesn’t love you both – because he does – it’s just that in those early days he really didn’t feel like – he didn’t feel like this could ever be his home.

    Max stayed here because I begged him to stay – until third grade. Somehow when he met Liz – somehow then Roswell became a place that could be his home.”

    ”But he never said a word about Liz Parker…,” started Diane.

    “He never said a word because it frightened me – the hold she seemed to have over him, even in the third grade. I made him promise he wouldn’t get too close to her. I was wrong, I realize that, now. He needs Liz – and right now he needs to be close to her.”

    “Well he can’t be close anyway, darling. Not with that court order,” said Philip

    “Daddy, trust me. Right now he needs to be here. Don’t try to make him leave. Please, daddy.”

    “I don’t know, Isabel. Your mother and I will talk about this later, try to come to a decision. But what you are telling us – I just don’t know – maybe Max IS stalking her – maybe he’s been stalking her all along. I know you love Max, but this is something that your mom and I must decide. We’ll listen to what you have to say, but if Max can’t cooperate – if he won’t go to school – we need to do something, darling.” Philip kissed Isabel on the head, kissed Diane, and left for the office, leaving Isabel alone with her mother.

    “Please Mom, don’t let daddy do this.”

    “I know you love your brother, Isabel, but we do need to do something.”

    “I am doing something, Mom. I’m trying as hard as I can. But if you try to do this to Max, it’ll make things much worse. He won’t do it – he’ll run away.”

    “But where would he go, Isabel. This is all he has..”

    But as she said the words, Isabel realized exactly what Max would do – where he would go. He’d return to the pod chamber – live there during the night and haunt the rehab hospital during the day. That was exactly what her brother would do….

    Diane looked at Isabel as that realization dawned on her, and it seemed like the woman could almost read her daughter’s mind. “This is about Max’s secret, isn’t it?”

    “Max’s secret?” Isabel replied, perhaps just a little bit too quickly.

    “You’ve figured out what it is. I’ve always known he had one – some secret that got between him and being the person that he always seemed to want to be – I just never figured out what it was. I figured it was something about what happened before – before you two came to live with us.”

    Isabel looked at her mother and wanted to explain – wanted to explain the whole thing – and she made a sacred vow that someday she would – not now, that was more stress that Max couldn’t take right now, but someday she would tell her mom the whole truth – that she promised..

    “When you adopted us – well, we were even less mature than you thought – especially me. I just hid it better. We didn’t understand how much you cared – we hadn’t known very much – love. It’s taken us awhile to – to catch up, Mom. Max didn’t have a secret – we both did. Max’s problem was – me.

    If I’d just let him follow his heart way back then – maybe all this wouldn’t even be happening now. But I didn’t do that, Mom, …I made a mistake that hurt Max and may have stolen from him all the time he could have had with Liz. He loves her, Mom – I think he always has. Please, I beg you – don’t do this to him.”

    “But honey, his future…”

    “Max is young, Mom. He’s a 4.0 student. So he graduates from high school a year or two later – what’s the harm?”

    “Isabel – what happened to you and Max before you came to us. You remember, don’t you?”

    “Mom, I promise you – when this is over. When everything about Liz and Max is settled – I’ll tell you the story. Yes, I remember about our lives before you found us. Not as much as you think I do, but I’ll tell you. But right now, Max doesn’t need that – Max needs to be near Liz. If you try to make him go away, he’ll leave – and if he does that – Mom I have no idea what will happen. I wouldn’t be able to help him then – wouldn’t be able to control him. Mom, please… it will only get worse if you and Daddy try to ship Max away from Liz.”

    Diane looked at her daughter – the daughter everyone thought was such an ice princess –saw the tears in her eyes – saw the look of desperation. She hugged her daughter tightly to her. “Look, I’ll work on your father – you talk to Max. He needs to make the case to your father – to both of us really – that he is being rational about this. Too much of it just doesn’t make any sense at all. Right now I can’t honestly blame the Parkers for getting that restraining order – if someone obsessed about you like this I’d be frightened too.”

    “Don’t worry about me, Mom, and don’t worry about Max either. Max would never hurt Liz – he’d give his soul for her. I should have realized that – just how much he loved her all this time. ‘And how much she loved him too,’ Isabel thought to herself. “I’ll talk to Max – calm him down – trust me, OK?”

    “Just do your best, dear, and I’ll talk to your father. .”
Last edited by greywolf on Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 12/19/2008

Post by greywolf » Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:41 am

  • Isabel pushed the elevator button for floor four – where the rehab was done at Roswell Medical Center. It was a sort of surreal moment. She and Liz had actually become pretty good friends – but only after her accident – and only in the dream orb. She probably hadn’t physically spoken two sentences to the girl since – could it really be fifth grade? But she had claimed to be the friend that she had now become and the receptionist had told her how to get to Liz’s room, and as the elevator opened on the fourth floor, there it was – right down the hall.

    Max was frantic with fear for Liz – fear that Liz would recover consciousness for just a few minutes and if he weren’t there he’d miss that precious window of opportunity to heal her – but he wasn’t irrational. She’d explained to him that stonewalling Mom and Dad just wasn’t going to work. Sure, it wasn’t like they could exactly handcuff him and drive him to that military school, but as long as the restraining order was in effect, he couldn’t be close enough to Liz to do her any good anyway. And he was just scaring both sets of parents by hanging out at the edge of the distance mandated by the restraining order for sixteen hours a day. She’d proposed a better plan.

    Isabel was under no legal restraint, and – except for Max – classmates were allowed to visit. So that was the deal – she’d go see Liz at least two times a day – personally assess her level of consciousness and tell Max everything about what was going on with her. He would try to be just a little less frantic, keep to the periphery, and try not to be conspicuous. She’d wanted him to return to school, and they’d talked for quite awhile about that. In the end she’d gone to her mother and father and told them – Max just couldn’t do it.

    Partly it was the lab classes – the ones where she had been his partner. Somehow he just couldn’t bring himself to think about having a different partner in any class where he had once been her partner. But it was more than that. Isabel knew. Max had always been happier at school – happier than sitting around at home with his sister – and Isabel could understand that too. The shy kid actually WAS the outgoing one. He could at least envision having a relationship with a human being. His sister had nagged him for eight years and kept that dream from becoming a reality – at least in the real world. But she herself had never really even considered. As she walked down the hall toward Liz’s room she wondered if dreamwalking were a gift or a curse. If she hadn’t been able to share her dreams with Alex, would she have been more likely to actually approach him? Perhaps – had she not had that outlet – she wouldn’t have had to have been such an Ice Princess in the real world. ‘Perhaps you could have even let your own brother have a life,’ she told herself.

    Then she walked in to the room and got her first view of Liz.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 12/20/2008

Post by greywolf » Fri Dec 26, 2008 9:49 am

  • It was, perhaps, impossible for anyone not a member of the Princess Posse to appreciate just how vain and self-absorbed Posse members could be – or how much of their lives were devoted to that vanity. Isabel had become a member – one of the reigning members – as a sort of camouflage. As a Posse member she got the chance to interact with other members and even the other students to a degree, while holding them at arm’s length – for no one really expected any of the Posse members to be capable of anything more than a superficial relationship. Nonetheless, she had gotten to know the other girls in the Posse – understood the effort many of them took at finding just the right clothes – the right make-up – the constant attention to the latest and newest fad to bolster their status as the fairest of the fair. She also understood how many of them hated Liz Parker – and why.

    Liz Parker had always been everything they had really wanted to be – stripped of the vanity and self-absorption. She had always been a pretty girl, and had she paid the least bit of attention to cosmetics or hair style, her beauty could certainly have been a match for any of the Posse members. But she never had – and that very lack of vanity itself was irritating to many of the Posse members, who found their own vanity the defininc character of their lives. Liz was popular – accepted – bright – vivacious – all without even trying. All of that without even paying the least bit of attention to trying to make it so – without the endless schemes and one-upsmanship – without the cruelty and contempt that so many Posse members saw as their only hope of feeling truly superior to anyone. Envy and hate were strongly linked for most members of the Posse, and they both envied and hated her. She was genuine in all the ways that they were not. Most of all they hated her because she was beautiful – even without making any effort to be beautiful. But not today.

    Liz had always been just a little on the lanky side – like a few more pounds would have filled her out nicely – but not anymore. As Isabel looked at the girl she’d come to truly know only after her accident – in the dream-orb – she was shocked by how much she had changed physically. She had lost twenty or twenty-five pounds – all of it muscle. Her limbs – all of them – were visibly wasted, the muscles atrophied from disuse much like those of someone had been placed in a cast for prolonged periods – or like the legs of a paraplegic. Her hair had at one point been shaved but was now growing back, the small scar where the intracranial monitor had been placed only barely visible through an unkempt mass of short brown hair – nothing like the long beautiful hair she still had in the dream-orb. Her eyes were not quite completely closed – some ointment placed under the lids by the nursing staff to keep them from drying out, since even her blink reflex was now gone. There was a plastic bottle filled with a brownish liquid that slowly dripped into clear plastic tubing that connected to an even smaller tube taped to her face that entered her nose. That was, Isabel knew, how she was being fed. Her body was propped to the left with pillows – there were instructions printed next to her to alternate her position every two hours – and her feet were in sheepskin heel protectors to keep her heels from ulcerating as well. The bed itself had an alternating pressure mattress with a compressor that was gradually cycling through first one set of chambers, then another, in an effort to keep Liz’s skin from breaking down from the unremitting pressure of her own boney prominences. By her bedstand Isabel saw a biohazard container next to a box of surgical gloves, some wipes, and an opened box of adult diapers.

    “Oh, Liz…” Isabel said, shaking her head sadly. “I’m so sorry…” She moved to the side of the bed, her hands reaching gently for Liz’s right hand, her words sticking in her throat as she struggled to speak. “I’d give anything, Liz, if I could have the years to do over – if I could take back the things I said – the effort I made to keep you and Max apart. I didn’t understand how much he needed you – never really understood the spell you seemed to have him in. I was scared – just scared and stupid and bigoted and ….. O God, Liz, I’d do anything to be able to give you and Max back those hours that my pigheadedness stole from you.”

    Isabel sat on the chair beside Liz’s comatose body, just holding her hands – the tears of remorse slowly streaking her cheeks, oblivious to everything but Liz and her own anguish and self-reproach.

    He stood in the doorway – not really knowing what to say. He’d gotten there just in time to hear the words – the contrition and pain in her voice almost too much to stand. As he heard it he felt his own penitence – not for anything he’d ever done to Liz Parker, but rather for the things he’d – until this very moment – thought about Isabel Evans.

    The funny thing was – she was the girl of his dreams – quite literally – but he’d never thought – not even for a moment – that the real Isabel Evans was anything like his Izzy– the girl he dreamed about. Oh sure, her body was the physical embodiment of the wonderful young woman he had created in his dream-fantasy, but he’d always known that the real Ice Princess Isabel Evans was nothing like his dream-girl emotionally. In fact, he hadn’t really ever known Isabel Evans, at least not since elementary school. He actually didn’t think he’d said ten words to her since then – she’d blossomed in junior high school and quickly become someone he had considered – well, out of his league.

    No, Alex – like everyone else, had assumed that she was what she appeared to be – what ALL the Ice Princesses were – self-centered – superficial – unfeeling – as cold and distant as some sort of alien being from another star. He had been wrong. Whatever Isabel’s concerns had been about her brother and Liz, they certainly had not caused this disaster – it had been a drunk driver that had put Liz in that bed. Alex understood why she felt that way though.

    It was something called survivor’s guilt. He’d talked to the hospital chaplain about why all of Liz’s friends except for Maria and him had stopped coming to see Liz. Max Evans he could understand – he was under a court order – although even then Max lurked at the edge of the line he was prohibited from crossing, desperate for any news about Liz. But why her other friends had slowly stopped coming to see her – that Alex hadn’t understood. The chaplain had explained – as Liz’s condition deteriorated the others felt grateful this hadn’t happened to them and – subconsciously – felt guilty for being glad it was Liz and not themselves that had been in the accident. It wasn’t rational, the chaplain had explained, but it was a very human emotion. Ten minutes ago, Alex wouldn’t have bet that any of the Ice Princess Posse – let alone Isabel Evans – actually had any human emotions other than vanity and arrogance. But he would have been wrong – he now knew – at least when it came to Isabel Evans.

    Right now Alex was feeling his own guilt – guilt about the fact that he’d thought so harshly about Isabel Evans who – as it turned out – was far more human – far more compassionate – than he’d ever allowed himself to believe. She was – perhaps – no Izzy – but then how could he know that? He’d been as unfair to her as she was being to herself. He had used her physical form for a model in dreaming his dreams, without ever once believing that there might actually be this sort of kindness in the real Isabel Evans at all.

    As he looked at her, lost in her own thoughts while holding Liz’s hand, his own heart was twisted with remorse. She was a far nicer person than he would have ever believed, and she was hurting now – blaming herself for something that was no fault of hers at all.

    “Liz wouldn’t want you to blame yourself about this. It was a drunk driver that did this to her – not anything you did.”

    Her eyes looked up at the sound of his voice – then went back to the face of the sleeping girl. “I know that – now. I only wish I’d known that years ago, Alex,” she said, the tears continuing to trickle down her eyes.

    Alex was somewhat surprised at her response – he wouldn’t have been entirely surprised if she had forgotten his name altogether – it wasn’t like they’d talked since elementary school, or even been good friends then.

    “Your fears make you do stupid things sometimes, Alex, and sometimes keep you from doing things you ought to do – keep you from taking chances that you really ought to take,” she said, obviously choking back a sob as she did so.

    Perhaps it was instinctive – perhaps it was a conditioned reflex driven by dreams of his Izzy – but he reached out to comfort her – freezing as he realized he had been about to hug her. He couldn’t believe the audacity of his own actions and had actually started to pull back, when she somehow seemed to flow into his arms. Seconds later, Alex Whitman – computer geek and musician, certainly not one of the pretty people of West Roswell High – had the reigning queen of the Ice Princess Posse sobbing quietly on his shoulder, his hand caressing her hair in an attempt to comfort her. The whole scene had an air of eerie unreality not unlike one of his dreams of his very own Izzy. But somehow it seemed to work – somehow the Ice Princess responded just as – he supposed – any normal girl would, not that Alex had a great deal of experience in such things – and he found her looking up at him trying to smile bravely.

    “I’ve been such a fool for so long.”
    “We all make mistakes, Isabel.”

    “Call me Izzy – all my friends call me Izzy.”

    “Sorry,” he said, a warm comfortable feeling growing in him as she continued to lean against him and he suddenly found himself accepted into her circle of people that she regarded as friends, “… I’ve just never heard anyone call you anything but Isabel.”

    “Yeah – rub salt in THAT wound why don’t you?” she said with a brave attempt at a smile.

    As they both sat down in chairs next to Liz, Alex reached out for her hand almost instinctively. When their hands met the fingers intertwined – just as his fingers intertwined with his dream-Izzy in his own dreams, and he briefly wondered if this was even real. That’s how Maria found them when she arrived to visit Liz, thirty minutes later – still sitting there – still looking at Liz and talking to her – still holding each others hand.
Last edited by greywolf on Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 12/20/2008

Post by greywolf » Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:25 am

  • Back in the Evans living room, the conference was in full swing.

    "Son, what happened to that young lady is tragic, but tragedies like that unfortunately happen all the time. Over 40,000 people die in auto accidents every year and you can't let your life stop when that happens," said Philip Evans. He really had meant to appeal to Max's logical side - it had always worked with his son in the past. The look he got from his wife warned him that he'd fouled up, even before Max's response.

    "Philip, I think ...," started Diane - before her words were drowned out by the voice of her son.

    "Liz isn't DEAD, Dad! She's just in a coma, and she's going to get better - she HAS to get better."

    "Max -" Diane started, reaching out a hand to his arm to calm him down - to console him - it was hard to tell if that helped or not as he continued...

    "And Liz isn't some anonymous person, Dad, not to me. She's ... she's Liz, she's my friend - my best friend. You've always talked about Mom being your best friend - If something like this happened to her would you just shake it off? Say ,'Oh well, gotta get back to the office...'

    "Max that isn't fair. Your mother and I have been married for half our lives. You barely know this girl."

    "That's not true. I've known Liz for eight years. I've cared about her from the very first day I met her. That's over half my life.” In fact, thought Max, it was half his life. He really didn't count incubating in the pod as living. By his counting, he'd really been alive for less than 11 years, and Liz had been there for eight of those.

    “Son, I'm sorry for what you are going through but you must understand how it looks to people when you lurk around the hospital as close as the restraining order lets you get – then interrogate everybody you think has visited her. This obsession is going to lead to the judge putting additional restrictions on you if you keep doing this. I wouldn't blame him either, hell 0 if I were the judge, that's PRECISELY what I'd do.”

    “I talked with Izzy about that and we found a way to work around that problem She's going to be visiting Liz, and telling me how she's doing. I won't have to bug Maria or Alex so much.”

    “Well that's a start, I guess. But son, I want your promise to not go near that hospital to see her – in fact, until one of the Parkers has given permission, I want your promise that you won't go near Liz at all.

    Max looked at his father. If Liz started waking up he'd need to be available – maybe on just a few minutes notice. He needed the freedom to come and go fast if that happened. Of course, he saw 'one of the Parkers' in the dream-orb every night. Liz wouldn't hesitate to give her permission, even if she was totally convinced he and Isabel weren't just a figment of her imagination. “OK, Dad. I'll keep away from Liz until one of the Parkers says it's OK.”

    “Now about school...”

    “I found out that I can take some junior college courses for high school credit on-line through there distance learning program. I just can't go back and sit in a classroom right now, Dad. Not a classroom I once shared with her.”


    “Philip, let's talk about this for just a little bit,” said Diane. “Max .., why don't you go in to the kitchen and get some lemonade for a few minutes. Your father and I need to talk privately.”

    “You guys want some too?”

    “Why don't you pour three glasses, and we'll be in there when we are done here, dear,” said Diane.

    In a few seconds Max was out of the room, and Diane turned to her husband.

    "Dear, I know this is scaring you - it's scaring me too. Max is so good at hiding his emotions - I've always known he has been. What I didn't know was the Isabel is even better at it. But Izzy isn't hiding her emotions with me now - she's scared - scared to an extent I wouldn't have believed possible, about what is happening to her brother."

    "That's hardly surprising, he's scaring me too. How this could come up all of a sudden like this..."

    "That's just it - this isn't all of a sudden. According to our daughter Max has cared about Liz ever since the third grade, he just never let it - well, Izzy claims she browbeat him into never letting it show."

    "Well doesn't that just confirm that the psychologist is right? That Max is fixated on the girl?"

    "What Izzy says is that this is her fault - that she was the one that kept them apart. Max was never 'stalking' Liz and it wasn't like Liz wasn't encouraging him - never anything inappropriate, but just sending signals like she'd be interested in being more than lab partners. But according to Izzy - she kept getting in the way. I'm not really sure how she managed to convince Max that the he and Liz Parker were 'too different,' but apparently she did. But apparently Max never really stopped caring for Liz, even though he'd resigned himself to never being close to her. Izzy says this accident and the way that Max has reacted to it made her take a second look at Liz and - well, Izzy thinks she has been wrong all along. For a girl who trys to project the image of an Ice Princess ... well, I've never seen anyone more concerned. She's begging me to give Max some space - to let her work with him to try to keep this situation from going out of control."

    "Isabel isn't a mental health professional, Diane..."

    "No, but she does know her brother, dear, better than anyone else on this planet, she knows her brother. She's asked that we trust her - and trust Max. She's scared, Philip, I can tell that. When I mentioned sending Max off to a military school, I saw the panic in her eyes. She thinks that would be the final straw that would push Max over the edge. She says Max needs our support now - not confrontation - and I think she's right. I think we ought to at least give her a chance."

    Philip ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. There were, he knew, no good options. "OK, let's let Izzy try. But we take it one day at a time. If Max gets worse, we'll have to do something else.."

    Diane hugged her mate. "If only Liz can somehow get through this, maybe everything will be normal again," she said. But even as she said it she knew, whatever secret Max had - and his sister shared - somehow it had never been really normal. She could only hope someday her children would trust her enough to share that secret with her.

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Re: Informed consent AU M/L ADULT 12/27/2008

Post by greywolf » Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:04 pm

  • ‘You can’t give up – miracles DO happen,’ thought Maria, repeating in her own mind what she’d heard Isabel tell Alex down in the cafeteria only an hour ago. And now, as she looked down upon Liz whose frizzy short hair had somehow been transformed into a bob that was, if not the classic beauty of her original long locks, at least an attractive hairdo that made her seem like a human being again, rather than a pale rag doll. No, Liz really hadn’t gotten any closer to consciousness – but she certainly looked better with color in her cheeks rather than the ghastly pale she had developed from weeks spent indoors in darkened rooms or fluorescent lights. Of course, it wasn’t really a miracle. Maria had seen it happen with her own eyes.

    But nonetheless, Maria HAD seen what she once would have considered a miracle –Isabel Evans acting like a human being. And an even greater miracle – Isabel seemed to have a genuine affection for Alex Whitman.

    She had been late meeting Alex at Liz’s bedside, and that had worried her. While lots of people were concerned about Liz, her condition had hit Alex especially hard. Somehow – even though Alex had two older brothers of his own – the three of them had been close since kindergarten. It was like, they were the sisters he’d never had, and he was the brother two only-child girls wished they’d had. The seeming abandonment of Liz by all her other friends as she lay comatose in the hospital had hit Alex particularly hard, and the last thing she’d wanted was for him to sit alone in the room looking at Liz’s wasted pale pasty self, but the lights on the trusty Jetta had been left on and the battery had only had enough power to make vague clicking sounds when the key was turned. By the time she’d chased down a helpful customer with a pair of jumper cables, she had been over ten minutes late. Her relief at finding that Alex was not sitting there alone had been instantly tempered when she saw who he was actually with.

    It was the holding hands that had stopped her in her tracks. Oh, she could believe that the Ice Princess would poke her nose in to see how Liz was doing – her brother was nearly frantic for any news about her – but Isabel with empathy? The Ice Princess actually caring about the feelings of Alex Whitman? That had been too much to swallow – at least at first. Two hours ago, Maria wouldn’t have believed that Isabel had any more real feelings than any of the other ice maidens of the posse – but she would have been wrong.

    They had sat at Liz’s bedside for at least half hour and somehow Isabel had never allowed her fingers to quite become untwined from those of Alex – somehow the words she chose seemed to be the very words that Alex needed to comfort him and the tears she’d shed when she had explained how sorry she was – how wrong it had been – to try to keep her brother away from Liz – those too had been heartfelt and genuine. It was like all her life the girl had been playing a role – like she was some sort of alien life form that didn’t care about human beings – and somehow Liz’s accident had broken through to the real Isabel hiding underneath the Ice Princess persona.

    The nurses assistants had kicked them out – well, kicked Alex out anyway when they’d come to give Liz her bed bath, and they had chosen to go with Alex down to the cafeteria. The three of them had gotten cups of coffee – not up to Crashdown standard – kind of the coffee equivalent of hospital food, but nonetheless sitting there and talking had helped. It was when Alex vented about the other students not visiting – that had been when Isabel had made the statement about miracles, and it had somehow resonated with a tearful Alex – either that or Isabel hugging him to her and shedding her own tears on his shoulder. Whatever had done it, Alex had found new strength of his own. When he’d had to go, it had been Isabel that suggested they fix up Liz whose bed bath had left her antiseptically clean, perhaps, but still looking like a pale ghost of her former self.

    They had started with the hair – shampooing and drying it, and Isabel had worked on the style. There was only so much you could do with such short hair, but it had actually turned out pretty good in a pixyish sort of way. If there was one thing that an Ice Princess excelled at, it was cosmetics, but even so Maria had been sort of surprised that Isabel had blusher with her that would work for Liz – it certainly wasn’t the same one she used – but it really did improve her pasty look from having been hospitalized for so long. Isabel also came up with a hospital gown for Liz somewhere that – well it looked like a standard hospital gown, even had Roswell Medical center stenciled on it, but it was a nice pinkish pastel. And somehow – Maria had no idea how – Isabel had come up with fingernail polish that was perfect for the pastel gown. Maria had done the manicure while Isabel was doing the pedicure, and Isabel was only now finishing up with the toenail paint.

    “She looks – wonderful,” said Maria when she was done.

    “For someone in a coma,” said Isabel.

    “Yeah, there is that. Uh, Isabel…”

    “Call me Izzy.”

    “Izzy – that was real nice what you did for Alex.”

    “What did I do?”

    “You reassured him – gave him hope. He’s really freaked out – not just about Liz, but about the fact that so many people seem to be giving up on her ever getting better.”

    “Hmmpph! Alex actually has it together pretty well. You ought to see Max.”

    ”I have seen Max. He interrogates me just about every time I leave here.”

    “Well, hopefully that will stop. I can tell him what’s going on with her – maybe that’ll calm him down a little.”

    “Is that why you’re here? For Max, I mean.”

    “Partly, I guess. Partly it’s really to see Liz – to do what I can to make up for what I did to her.”

    “You did? You weren’t driving that car…”

    “No, but I’m the one that spent the last eight years keeping them apart as much as I could.”

    “So this is penance for that?”

    “Not exactly – I like Liz. I’d be here anyway.”

    “You LIKE Liz? Excuse me, but I really didn’t see much evidence of that before she got in her accident. Why was that?”

    “Because I was stupid.”

    “Stupid? I don’t think so. Your GPA is almost up there with Liz and Max’s. There must be more too it than that.”

    “OK, not stupid maybe, simply ignorant. Abysmally, sadly, terribly, incredibly ignorant. I didn’t believe how accepting and caring people could be – or how much my younger brother loved Liz.”

    “Max is younger than you? But you are in the same grade….”

    “Private joke between Max and me. I was born first – it was about twenty minutes sooner is all – but I played the older sister role. I knew he really cared for her – I just didn’t know he cared as much as he really did – or that she cared so much for him I guess.”

    “She spent years just waiting – hoping that he’d make the right move – Hell, ANY move.”

    “Yeah, he spent all those years wanting to – he never stopped looking at her – thinking about her.”

    “So he was – stalking – her?”

    “No, not stalking. Just dreaming about something that he never thought he’d have – like me.”

    “You have an unrequited love? Ice Princess Isabel.”

    “Please, Ice Princess Izzy, all my friends call me that.”

    “I couldn’t believe it when I heard Alex call you that. You were being real sweet to him. So who is this guy who you stalk in your dreams – Ted Brady I’ll bet..”

    “Ewww… I dated him – one date – that was about three too many.”

    “Who then?”

    “I’ll give you some hints. He’s six foot one, plays guitar, bass, and saxophone. He can program computers in six different languages, and he left here about an hour ago.”

    “Alex Whitman – no way!”

    “Hey, Alex has a lot to offer a girl – he’s about as nice a fellow as West Roswell High has.”

    “I know that, I just didn’t think….”

    “That Ice Princess Isabel would? The problem hasn’t been the knowing, it was getting up the courage. Maybe that’s why I was so insistent that Max didn’t see Liz. If he had, I’d have been forced to deal with my own dreams – and I don’t think I was ready to do that.”

    “Izzy – you ought to ask him out for coffee or something. He’s mad about you – always has been.”

    “He told you that?”

    “No, it’s just that whenever you are around he’s always looking…”

    “At me…?”

    “No, somewhere else. But that’s just Alex, he’s been that way since kindergarten. The toy he really wants … he won’t look at it. When he really wants the football team to score – he closes his eyes. You really ought to tell him.”

    “Yes – I really should. Liz has taught me a lot of things – not the least of which is that there are no guarantees. If you don’t take the opportunities when you have them – well, it might just be too late.”

    “So do it… ask him.”

    “I can’t – not now anyway.”

    “Why not?”

    “I spend eight years keeping my brother away from the one he cares about until she’s like this – then I learn my lesson from his tragedy and go have fun with Alex while he’s waiting for Liz to come back to him? I couldn’t do that to him.”

    “You know,” started Maria, but she was interrupted by a voice from the doorway.

    “What’s SHE doing here?” asked Jeff Parker.