2007-02-29: Holding Out For A Hero


Samantha_icon.gif Namir_icon.gif


Samantha visits Namir at his hospital bed, and amongst other things, the pair discuss what it means to be a hero.

Date It Happened: February 29th, 2007

Holding Out For A Hero

Mount Sinai Hospital

She wasn't on shift when Namir came in, or else she would have visited more readily. But going through some of the paperwork and an overheard conversation between a nurse and a PA resulted in Sam finding out that an aquaintance of hers had taken a few too many lungs full of some nasty stuff, so she finagled the room number out of them with bribes of cafeteria cheesecake. And thus duly armed, she heads for the room in which Namir is enjoying his convalescence. On the bright side? Sinai is one of the swankiest hospitals in the city. Why, they've even got free cable!

But there's never anything good on cable, especially not at this time of night. That doesn't mean Namir has the TV turned /off/, mind, but he's grown very bored with it by now and is channel-surfing mindlessly. News, news, news, movie, movie, late night talk show, and so on. The man is laid in bed, of course, his blistered hands bandaged and smothered in ointment. A square of gauze has been taped to his right cheek where another blister developed earlier. One overly bandaged finger is tapping the clicker — not an easy task, considering! — and he stares up at the TV with a blank expression. Hospitals are boring.

Except when you're a doctor, and then it's all kinds of cheers, tears, and oh yes, paycheck. Samantha knocks quickly on the door before stepping in, commenting airily, "Heard someone was wasting a bed up here. I had a feeling you'd be awake. How are you managing, Namir?" She strides over to the foot of the bed, picking up his chart to eyeball it.

The knock is a welcome distraction from the dull TV. Namir glances up when he hears it, then grins a little when he sees who it is. "I heard the beds here were comfortable; thought I'd stop by and see for myself." The TV is turned off without hesitation and the remote dropped on the nightstand nearby. "I've been better. I've been worse too. What about you?" His chart would indicate routine treatment for mild thiodiglycol exposure: some treatment for mild burn blisters, some neutralizing agents to stop the effects of the gas on skin, esophagus, and lungs. It doesn't look as bad as it could have been.

"I heard there was an ESU guy flirting shamelessly with the nurses on this floor, and I thought no one could be flirting with fifty-something year old Madge but you." Sam says cheerily as she flips through the chart. "I got to sneak a peak at your x-rays. You're very lucky, but I'm sure the doctor currently working with you has told you that. So I'll skip the lecture, and you tell me what happened? Talking to me has got to be more exciting than Conan O'Brien." Absently pushing some dark hair away from her face, she moves to take a seat by the bed.

Such lighthearted joking works to widen Namir's grin. "Ah, tell a few jokes, waggle a few eyebrows, and you get accused of flirting," he sighs in mock despair. "Madge is a good-looking woman, and a nice one too. I guess she thinks I'm too young for her." He nods, his grin fading into a smirk at the mention of being lucky; when Samantha sits, he rolls his head to the side to watch her. "There was a weapons smuggling deal that went awry on the ferry. Mustard gas. I guess the man who was trying to buy it didn't like the seller so much — shot him and the pack holding the gas. It wasn't pretty, but the gas was neutralized before it could do any real damage to the passengers. They arrested the buyer after we docked."

And this is where Samantha's tone while still light turns gently chastizing. "And you had to go and take a few big whiffs, didn't you? Didn't they train you better in the IDF?" She looks down at his chart again. "Very lucky." she repeats with gentle emphasis. "How's your breathing, anyhow? You going to hassle me if I want to give a listen?"

"Well, I had to know what it smelled like," replies Namir, grin returning. "It was part of the experience! For the record, it smelled like horseradish." He grimaces a little as he leans back into his pillows, back arching as he stretches the muscles there. Maybe the beds aren't as comfortable as one would have him believe. Once he's finished, he lets out a sigh and eyes Samantha with a raised eyebrow. "It's been as good as you'd expect. If you want a listen, go ahead, but your stethoscope better not be cold."

"Stethoscopes are always cold." she informs him, and moves to help him sit up before pulling the listening ends up to her ears. The stethoscope slides over his chest, and her expression turns vague and distant as she listens. "Breathe." she instructs.

"Mm, you doctors ought to work on inventing heated ones, then." All talking on Namir's end ceases after the stethoscope touches his chest, and he breathes in as instructed. However, his eyes remain locked on Samantha's face, a faint smirk on his lips. Something's amusing.

Samantha moves the stethoscope, repeats the order, then does the same at his back. "What?" she asks him she's finished, and takes a moment to tug out a pen from her lab coat and write a note on his chart. "It'll be a while before you can run a marathon, but you should be alright. Let me guess, they're giving you one to two week recovery time before going back on duty? Lungs are not to be messed around with. Well, that goes for all internal organs really. They're really good to have, you know. Working."

"Oh, nothing," he remarks offhandedly. "Have I ever mentioned that you have beautiful eyes?" The question is accompanied by a cheeky grin, which remains on Namir's face as he's chastised gently once again. "Mm, I always thought they were a bit overrated myself, but if you say so. You're the doctor, after all. Yes, they've given me two weeks off to recover. I don't think they like it when I act like a hero while I'm off-duty."

Samantha smirks at him. "As it happens, I know I do. But we know how it will end, a Muslim guy, a Jewish gal, there would be inevitable fighting in the streets between our rival gangs that nonetheless seem to erupt into spontaneous Dance Wars that make Bruno and Carrie-Anne weep. I'm not the doctor assigned to your case, I'm a nosy friend. Are you actually going to do what you're told for a change, though? You should. Being a hero is generally more successful when your lungs are in working order."

Namir laughs softly, which dwindles into a light wheezing cough. Augh. Laughing too much is on his list of Things Not To Do For A Few Weeks. "Mm-hmm, nosy. I like your nose too, by the way," he rasps out once he's got his lungs under control once again. "But you're right, we'd cause city-wide chaos, and I don't think I love you enough to burst into spontaneous song and dance." He coughs sharply into a fist and shakes his head, clearing his throat. "That /alone/ would bring a halt to life as we know it."

"My heart will go on." Samantha replies blithely. "I don't want to jimmy your scrips, but I'll have the nurse bring you ice chips so you can keep your throat soothed. I'll also endeavor to be less funny so you don't actually hack up one of your lungs. It's unsanitary, see."

"Oh, you don't have to worry about that; I already hacked it up earlier today." Namir settles back into his pillows again with a deep exhale, squeezing his eyes shut at the burning in his throat. /That/ better not stick around for long. "Ice would be wonderful. Thanks, Samantha. You're too nice to us Muslims sometimes." Smirk.

"You know, you really should call me Dr. Applebaum." she chides. "Muslim, Christian, or Jew, you're still a pain in the ass." This is confided cheerfully, but then her tone turns serious. "Look. I know your instinct is to tough it out, but if you're in any kind of pain you should say something. Particularly about the burn in your throat to your primary physician. They can make sure you've got meds and to make sure the lining of your esophagus hasn't detoriorated too badly." Her tone turns mock-simpering. "Can you do that for me?"

Pfff, physicians. Physicians are for unhealthy people. Namir is /totally/ not unhealthy. He opens his eyes to glance up at Samantha again and his lips contort into a playfully doleful frown. "Ohhh, don't use that tone with me; I /hate/ it when you talk like that." With an aggravated sigh that is not at all aggravated and is purely for show, he waves a hand acquiescently. "All right, all right. I'll let them know my every ache and pain if that'll make you happy." That hand stops moving to point an index finger at the doctor quite seriously. "But only if you'll have a drink with me sometime." Of course, Namir doesn't drink alcohol. "Drink" implies some sort of soda, in his case.

Samantha actually gets a little confused. "I thought you were practicing? I mean - ohh, I get it. You want to go to the corner drugstore and have ourselves an egg cream, daddy-o. I gotcha." She lets out a laugh. "We'll see. It's certainly a better bargain then what I got offered a couple of days ago." A thoughtful pause. "I should check up on that patient. He's a strange one."

A "we'll see" is better than an "I can't", and so Namir is happy to accept it. He grins briefly, but it fades into a curious sort of expression when Samantha adds something about a strange patient. "What patient? What did he offer you?" His eyes go wide jokingly a moment when he adds, "Are you seeing other patients behind my back, Samantha?" What a travesty!

"It was bizarre, actually." Sam says, tone going thoughtful. "I caught him attempting self harm. He'd used a bit of metal to gouge out a bit of his flesh right about here…" she indicates a spot where neck and shoulder meet, "And then seemed surprised when I ordered restraints. I've dealt with some out-there people, you get all types in the emergency room, but seeing someone that lucid and seemingly of sound mind having done that to himself, it was odd."

The story both baffles and disgusts Namir, both of which are plainly evident on his face. He wrinkles his nose as he considers it a moment, trying to come up with an explanation for the behavior and then, coming up with a blank, shaking his head slightly. "This city," he sighs. "He didn't /offer/ you that chunk of flesh, did he?" As if gouging it out himself wasn't bad enough.

"He tried to negotiate lack of restraints for 'allowing' me to suture the wound." Samantha says, her own lips twisting at the recollection. "So I informed him that it wasn't a negotiation, and he decided to try and leave. So I told him I'd call the cops and he could enjoy a suicide watch from a jail cell, and then he calmed down after I offered counter negotiation of extra morphine. He was in a good deal of pain anyway. Put him right out, and set him up for a psych consult in the morning." She studies Namir a moment, her expression thoughtful. "Why are you here?" she asks. "I don't mean in this room right now," she says quickly, because he can be cheeky like that. "I mean, why are you here in New York City? Lots of places need heroes."

Namir grins at the quick clarification of the question. She's learning! However, the expression fades to a more serious one when he makes his reply: "This is where my family moved when we left Ramat HaSharon. I never really considered going anywhere else. I think I did enough heroics abroad while I was in the Army, and why move when you're in a position to be a hero already?" The grin returns again. "Why are /you/ here in New York City?"

"I was born here." she replies. "As if my accent and big hair didn't tell you that." she teases, but then says after a second's puzzlement, "What does it mean to you, exactly? Being a hero? I mean, what are you in it for? Is there a quota on heroism in any given locale around the world? Sorry, you've reached your limit, off to Uganda or New Zealand!"

It takes a moment of thought for Namir to answer, as he's never really considered such things before. He doesn't have a ready response. He stares at the far wall as he ponders, brow creasing slightly, lips pursing. "I suppose the best way of putting it," he says slowly after a time, "is: heroism is putting the lives of others before yours, making sacrifices so that they can go on to live happier, better lives. It doesn't even need to be big. Buying a meal for a stranger who needs it, tipping that waitress a little something extra, lending an ear to someone who needs to unload a few troubles — those are heroic acts. I suppose that's what I'm in it for: bettering someone's life. And of course there's no quota on heroism. We as humans will always need heroes, and so there will always be a demand for them." He smiles faintly. "You can't say you've done enough when there are still more in need out there, hmm?"

"Is it about the people's need for them to exist, or your desire to be one?" Samantha asks. She's curious, and seeming to realize the question could be misconstrued as hostile, attempts to phrase it gently, or at least, without evident judgement. "So I suppose the next question would be - why do you do it?"

The smile breaks into a grin, and Namir glances at Samantha with one eyebrow raised inquisitively. "My, you're philosophical this evening," he chuckles. As before, however, his expression becomes a bit more serious, though the smile remains. "I do it because people need heroes, and not enough people step in to fill that role. If not me, then who else? Besides, as the Holy Qu'ran says: '… spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask; and for the freeing of captives … practice regular charity'. If more people in this city stopped to help their fellow man, maybe we wouldn't get people who rip themselves open or who break open a can of mustard gas on a crowded ferry."

"Did you ever find out why that happened?" Sam's voice is momentarily soft, as she adds, "I thought you weren't…" she trails off, but then returns to the original line of question. "Did a group take responsibility? Was it just a domestic spot of violence?"

Namir shakes his head. "The buyer was a known Russian mobster. I don't know who the seller is; I think they're still trying to identify him." But now it's his turn for questions, and with an upward pull of his eyebrows, he inquires, "Why are you so interested in heroes and what makes them? You're not doubting that /you/ are a hero, are you?" Doctors are very /big/ heroes.

"It's not something I think about, to be honest." Samantha admits frankly, with an absent tug of her labcoat. "I'm good at what I do, and it's important to offer those skills to those that need them. It's interesting to me, to know what motivates a person. If no one ever recognized you - if no one ever called you a hero, pointed at you in the street and called you by that appellation, would you still do the things you do, even if it meant going unrewarded, unrecognized?"

Hmm, another puzzler. Namir cocks his head to one side, squinting a little in thought. "If I were /never/ recognized for what I did, it might be hard to do," he admits. "Everyone needs recognition, no matter how selfless they might be. That said, I don't do it because people applaud me for it; I do it for the gratitude of the people I serve. Breaking into a room and freeing a hostage may get me recognition from the general public, but it's the gratitude of the hostage that makes it worthwhile. If gratitude was eliminated from the earth, that would make my job a lot more difficult." The smirk returns before he adds, "You chose the wrong profession. You should have been a psychologist."

Samantha lets out a little laugh. "I considered a specialty in it. I even did a rotation during my third year of residency, but psych is very…mmm, touch and go. It was very helpful when it comes to handling trauma victims, though. Very useful when I was in Columbia and the Sudan. Especially the Sudan." She's not laughing now of course, and says, "Listen to me. I bet I'm keeping you awake, yeah?"

"Mm-hmm, you are. It's very selfish of you to deprive me of sleep for your own psychological motives." This is said with a deadpan expression, but it quickly breaks into a smile, accompanied by a soft snort of amusement — which becomes a suppressed and quiet cough. After clearing his throat again and grimacing at the burning sensation, Namir adds, "I don't mind. You have beautiful eyes, a nice nose, and a pretty voice, so I get something out of it too." There's that cheeky smirk again. "But I'm probably keeping you from those patients that you're seeing behind my back."

Samantha doesn't bat an eye, pitching her voice low like the announcer for a tv network. "Doctor Samantha Applebaum, medical floozy."
That gets another laugh from Namir which inevitably turns into a second fit of coughing, this one a bit rougher and louder than its predecessor. Augh, laughter. It takes him a little while to get it under control this time, so it takes a moment for him to be able to haltingly respond: "Didn't you take an oath to do no harm? I think /you'll/ kill me before the city's criminal population gets the chance."

Samantha grins, full of evil. "I'm not responsible for the awesome sense of humor God gifted me with."

"It isn't what He gives us; it's how we use it." Namir grimaces again, this time a mixture of the sensation in his throat and the soft pop of his spine as he stretches his arms above his head. Ahhh, that's better. "But better to kill with laughter than something a little more devious, hmm?" As he re-settles in the pillows again, the man's eyelids droop a bit, though his smile returns. "If it's any help, you are one of my heroes."

"The things you say." Sam says lightly, putting the chart back on the clip at the bottom of the bed. "Go to sleep, Namir. You can't charm the morning shift nurses with rings under your eyes."

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