2010-07-29: Contagious



Date: July 29, 2010


It's contagious.


Hospital Room

It's been some time since the fire at the apartment, though Erin hasn't kept track of exactly how many minutes have ticked by. She just knows she's exhausted, and, while admitted to the ER for smoke inhalation and minor burns, she insisted on getting to Taine as quickly as possible. Her skin is red, almost like a sunburn on most of her body. There are already blisters on her shoulders, and her singed hair is pulled back into a ponytail. The hospital bracelet is still around her wrist, but she's not nearly as bad off as Taine is.

She stares at the burns on his skin. If she'd put it all together just a second before she threw the water on him, she would have remembered how much the ice burned him, and wouldn't have done it. She can't take it back now, as badly as she feels. But she can be there for him, her hand in his.

Not only is she there as emotional support, though. She's there because if he wakes up and starts a fire again, she's going to knock him out before he ignites the oxygen tank that's situated right behind his bed. When he opens his eyes, she tenses momentarily - she might only have a moment to get through to him - then whispers, "Just relax. Don't panic. The more you panic, the more likely it is to happen again. Try not to think about it." She speaks from experience.

Oh, isn't that just the purple elephant. Don't think about it and you're doomed to. Taine blinks and looks around, beginning to shift so that he can sit up some, but then… the pain stops him, and he flops back against the bed. In her hand, there's a distinct rise in temperature, and his heartbeat and blood pressure increase— The temperature on the machine rises a couple degrees, moving into the 100s. "What— what happened? But— the— there was a fire. Are— are you okay?" His accent isn't marred by smoke. The doctors had even said that except for the burns, he didn't seem as if he'd been in the fire at all.

And he'd not been burned by the fire.

Stay calm, stay calm. Don't think about it.

The machines give a different story— but she knows what it's like to panic. And the potential damage that could be caused.

"I'm fine. Taine." While his voice isn't affected, her's is rough, like sandpaper. Her eyes flicker to the machine, but she already knows that his temperature is going up, which she's assuming is the first indication that they're heading into the danger zone. Another quick glance around her, and she determines that there's no one around.

That's when her eyes light up like two miniature fires themselves. He'll start to feel sick again, and Erin feels horrible about it. At the moment, though, it's the only way she knows how to control him. "Breathe," she says. The illness is more minor this time - not designed to cause a blackout, but to induce chills. To lower the core body temperature. Even though she's become an expert with viruses, she still feels like she's fighting against something.

"Take it easy, or I'll have to put you under again."

The sickness does have some side effects, in changing the monitors again, but in some ways it's good. Breathing slows, due to difficulty, and temperature stabalizes at a fever, and then begins to lower, holding steady at a hundred degrees. Taine coughs, and slides his eyes closed weakly. The weakness is one of the things that seems to be most present, perhaps even taylor made for this particular thing.

"This must be… your fault," he says, voice becoming slightly rougher and more hoarse. Not from smoke, but from inflammation in the throat. A moment later he coughs, while trying to laugh. "Jinx."

Just so she knows. She's the jinx, in this case. Now may not be a good time to tell him he'll need a new apartment.

Erin's smile is weak at best. It's not entirely her fault, but she did seem to make it worse. Her eyes, still bright blue, can't see the burns across his skin anymore, but she knows they're there. As the glow fades, leaving him with enough of the virus to hopefully keep him calm, she slumps down in her chair, staring at him.

Now's really not a good time to tell him anything. He'll panic. Then he'll be in denial. Then he'll be angry. He'll plead for it to go away, and then, if everyone's lucky, he'll accept what he's become and get on with his life. Erin still hasn't entirely conquered acceptance just yet, herself.

Sighning, she leans forward, giving his hand a squeeze. She nods to the monitors. "Look up there. See your temperature?" She's going to try to break it to him easy. Maybe if they just— Maybe if he figures it out for himself…

Much of the symptoms settle, but the fatigue remains, and that's enought to keep him a little settled. Taine closes his eyes for a long moment, before the words finally seem to filter through his mind, and he looks toward the machines, and the digital read out. It still holds steady at a hundred, two degrees above normal, but less than it could have been— and a lot less than it was back in the apartment.

When he'd been running a temperature for the last couple of days.

When ice burnt him.

"I'm hallucinating— you made me sick again," he says finally. It's denial, and he even seems to know it, cause he looks at her. She's gotten much better with her ability than she'd been originally— she wouldn't have made him sick by accident. She wouldn't have caused those hallucinations…

"Bloody hell."

He'll find that he has as long as he needs to let it sink in. Erin remains quiet as he processes it; the look on her face is a mix of fatigued, worried, and pained. She legitimately doesn't want to see him going through this, even if some small part of her is still in the 'misery loves company' realm.

When he looks at her, Erin can't meet his eyes. She looks away, shaking her head.

"Look, it's … not all that bad," she says quietly. There's even a smile there. Encouraging. She can't think of how this isn't bad, though, because it's not something subtle, it's something dangerous. Very dangerous. "But you have to learn how to use it. And by the look of things… You're gonna have to learn pretty quickly."

She shrugs, thumb gently tracing the pattern of the faded burn on the hand she's holding. "All the signs were there, Taine. We just didn't think that it could be… this." She holds up his hand for him to see. "This isn't from the fire. It's from the water I threw at you to try to put it out. It was too cold, I guess, I don't— I can't even — I don't know how it works."

"Not all that— I— !!" Taine starts to raise his voice, the temperature even spikes a whole four degrees, dangerously high for a fever, before settling back down. His eyes shift from her back to the monitor, before he settles back down against the bed. He'd started to sit up. He'd started to get warmer. It's only a matter of time before it happens again, but that doesn't change that…

"You're contagious," he finally says, voice a little more angry than the joking jests of a moment ago. He'd been completely normal until— until now. His only pwoer was his outstanding charm. His wonderful hair—

And now he's…

Erin gives Taine a chance to get this under control this time before she steps in. He manages not to set the bed on fire, but she does help him drag his temperature back down to a managable level. She's so tired already that the simple action is difficult. And when all this help she's so charitably providing only earns her that angry accusation…

All she can do is stare.

"N-no, it's not contagious," she finally manages, caught too off guard by his words that she can't even reciprocate the anger at first. Then she stands, leaning over his bed, glowing eyes narrowed as she meets his. "If I'd left you like you left me? You'd be dead now. Find another way to deal with this besides throwing blame around. Because the ass card isn't gonna work again."

It so totally would. But right now, his anger at her is not going to help.

But the insinuation that she somehow did this to him makes her uncomfortable as she sits back down, removing her hand from his. She mutters, "God, what if you're right?" What if her ability isn't just making people sick?

Erin gives Taine a chance to get this under control this time before she steps in. He manages not to set the bed on fire, but she does help him drag his temperature back down to a managable level. She's so tired already that the simple action is difficult. And when all this help she's so charitably providing only earns her that angry accusation…

All she can do is stare.

She'd thought about that already, but didn't think he'd actually accuse her of causing this. For that reason, she's temporarily caught off-guard as she extricates her hand from his. "I don't know. I don't know if I caused it or not. It's— I don't think my ability works that way." For the moment, she can't meet his eyes. She tries to hold the anger at bay, but the very idea…

Her own stress finally bubbles over, and she stands, leaning over him, her own fiery blue eyes meeting his. "I stayed with you. pulled you out of there. I'm trying to help you, Taine, and if you push me away now, no amount of ass cards is going to win me over again. I…" She trails off. "If it was me, I'm sorry." Her voice becomes gentler, and she sits back down. "But you can be angry at me all you want later. Right now, you— have to concentrate on not… burning the hospital down."

"It's not you," Taine says after a moment, realizing that his anger caused him just to lash out at the only idea he could come up with. Until he met her, his life was normal. Well, as normal as an Australian Soap Star can get. Which in his mind was pretty normal. But then she showed up and turned his life inside out— or he showed up, since they wrote his part for her character…

It's probably best he not think too much more on that. "I just want it to go away. It'll go away, right? If I just— don't try to light anything on fire, it'll go away and I won't have to…" How often has she wanted it to go away and it hasn't?

"We need to get me out of here as soon as possible— they'll release me soon, right? We can— I don't know, go somewhere. Away from people." Far away.

It might have been, Erin really has no idea… If she can spread disease like a plague, can she spread her condition like a plague, too? But even if it was her, and she somehow caused this - which, deep down, she knows she didn't - then the damage is done, and they're going to have to deal with it.

When he asks if it'll go away, she starts to shake her head, but stops, looking away from him. "I'm going to let up on — " She looks around to make sure no one's watching or listening, but she lowers her voice anyway. The glow in her eyes becomes dimmer. "I'm going to let up on the viruses. Think of it this way. That fire is part of you now, and you can control it. In fact, it's so easy, you can do it in your sleep." Because he did. He was asleep, and nothing burned down. "The only reason you're having such a bad reaction is because you're worrying about it. It's kinda defensive. Remember when mine would go off? When I was scared, or angry." Smiling at him, she takes his hand again.

"I'll be here to stop it if I need to. But 'til we do get out of here, you're going to have to try to take control now and then. Okay?" She's trying to sound like an expert. Really, she doesn't know how it happened. She's guessing; he was nervous about his fever, and he lit his apartment on fire.

There'd been a lot going on in Taine's mind and emotional state at the time. Nervousness about the fever, anger over what happened to her… not to mention the anxiety of just asking her to marry him. Yes, despite how cool he tried to seem about that, he was anything but. It'd not been an easy thing to bring up— nor does he take it lightly. "Just— see if you can get me out of here soon. I don't think it'll be easy to— not panic when I'm in a hospital."

Hospitals aren't exactly the most comfortable enviroment! She should know— she's spent enough time in them lately.

"Making me sick may be a quick fix, but I don't— I'll figure it out. I just can't— do it here." Or anywhere where there are people that can get hurt, for that matter. That would include her— but at least he remembers her comments on pushing her away being a bad thing.

As he's done so many times for her, Erin leans down to kiss him on the forehead. This is something she feels like she can handle - that she's qualified to handle. She's already figured out how to keep his ability in check; the virus has evolved since the emergency room, tailored specifically for him. Chills. Exhaustion.

Despite her attempts to get him to calm down, he still seems nervous. "Taine," she says, trying to keep her tone at least somewhat gentle. She doesn't want him to start relying on her ability as a crutch, because using it on him is making her tired. She can't be exhausted and able to help him at the same time. "I'm gonna go get a nurse. See if they can give you something to put you to sleep. I bet if you don't argue, they'll let you go tomorrow morning."

Pausing, she gives his hand another squeeze. "And I won't leave you. I'll be here the whole time, I promise."

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