(Monday 11th, May)
The elevator doors beeped, and Nyla looked up from her phone. It was her floor. Putting her phone away, she stepped off and into the unfamiliar hallway, doing a quick look around before locking onto the reception desk. She made her way over, dodging foreign nurses and doctors, who gave her confused looks. She reached the desk and smiled down at the nurse occupying it. "I'm Dr Correa, and I was paged by psych?" The woman blinked then nodded.
"Yes, of course." She turned and grabbed a file. "Max Sky requested to see you." Nyla frowned. Max wanted to see her? She'd assumed the man would be mad at her for transferring him to the psych level. She smiled at the nurse, thanking her and taking his now unfamiliar file. It was filled with all kinds of different assessment sheets stating his check-ups and medication. It looked like he was still on heavy pain medication, despite it having been nearly four weeks and his 2nd degree burns were well on their way to scarring over. His 3rd degrees had to have skin grafts put over them, but they couldn't do that until his other burns were well and truly healed. She made her way to his new room, catching up on his file.
When she reached it, she knocked on his door to signify someone was coming in before opening it and looking inside. Max wasn't bedridden as she'd expected but sitting in a chair by the window, a peaceful smile on his face as he looked out the window, taking in the sun's rays shining down on the scenery. He looked like a completely different man from the one she seen just two weeks ago. He turned and smiled at her. "Dr Correa! I'd hoped you'd come." Nyla smiled at his seemingly happy tone.
"Hello, Max," She wandered into the room and shut the door. "I'm glad to see your up and moving." Max laughed and waved her off.
"Yeah. The pain medication does wonders." Nyla smiled and wandered over to his new bed, placing the file on his eating tray.
"Has your wife visited yet?" She asked, and Max smiled brightly at her, a complete 180 from his usual frown at the mention of his wife.
"Yep, in fact, she's downstairs getting something to eat in the cafeteria." Nyla was surprised. Had she not seen the state he'd been in, Nyla would think that he'd never been depressed. Either the meds he were being given were the greatest in the world, or there was something else going on. Nyla didn't show any of her suspicion on her face.
"That's wonderful!" He nodded before going to looking out the window. "Was that the only reason you paged me? To see me?" She asked, tone slightly teasing and Max flushed but shook his head.
"No, of course not!" He smiled at her. "Since your my friend, could you get me a few books to read? I'm supposed to start physical therapy next week, and the trainer says the first few days are going to be 'a bitch'." Nyla laughed and nodded. With that kind of language, she would bet Max was paired with Brian. He was a great physical therapist, but he wasn't afraid to tell it to you straight.
"Of course! Any books in particular?" She asked, and Max shook his head.
"As long as they are not romantic tragedies, I'm not picky." Nyla nodded and made to grab his file before stopping. She turned back to Max.
"I'm curious," She started, making Max turn back to her. "Why ask me and not Lucien?" Max's smile dimmed, and he looked down at his hands.
"He hasn't been to visit me for a while." He clenched his hands, the undamaged skin turning white at the force. "Not since the policemen." His smile turned dark, and Nyla felt a shiver go down her spine at his anger. "Apparently, I'm not important enough to him to put aside his work." He scoffed. "Those policemen were right. He doesn't care for me." Nyla opened her mouth to refute him but she couldn't. Lucien hadn't been to visit, nor has he asked Nyla about Max. It was like the man had forgotten Max existed. Instead, Nyla bid the angry man goodbye.
Nyla adjusted the messenger bag on her arm as she entered the library doors. Max hadn't been too picky with his request except that she couldn't buy the books, so renting them out was the next best thing. She decided to come to the actual Loveland Library because the one at the hospital only contained medical-related stuff. And a recovering burn victim didn't want to read about the digestive tract and how to fix it in surgery, even if he was a scientist. She signed in before heading towards the scientific research area. Max worked with Lucien meaning his area of expertise was neuroscience. She traced her fingers along the margins, surprised at how many books there actually were.
"And why would a trauma surgeon such as yourself be looking at neurology books?" Lucien's smooth voice whispered in her ear, his hot breath racing over her skin. Nyla flushed and resisted the urge to turn around and kick the scientist in the stomach. Once she'd gotten her fight reflex under control, she turned towards the man, noticing his lack of a lab coat for the first time ever.
"Hello, Lucien." She said, and he smiled that teasing smile at her.
"How are you?" She asked, and he breathed a chuckle.
"You're avoiding my question." He stated, and Nyla lowered her head in shame. She was caught with little effort.
"I'm looking for some books for Max." Lucien blinked, surprised like he'd forgotten Max existed. But the surprise quickly faded, and he smiled.
"How is the man doing?" Lucien asked, and Nyla raised her eyebrow at him. "I've been swamped with work, so I haven't had the chance to visit or contact him." To anyone else, it would have been a convincing lie. To Nyla, it was a poor excuse. But she wouldn't question Lucien on his treatment of Max. She didn't know the true nature of their relationship. They might have never actually been friends.
"He enters physical therapy next week, but it'll still be months before he's eligible to return to work." Lucien nodded.
"With you as his doctor, I'm sure he'll recover nicely." Nyla looked away, feeling slightly guilty.
"Actually, I'm no longer his doctor. He had to move to the psych floor for depression, and I've got more pressing patients to tend to." It was true. The other day, a bunch of drunk teenagers had crashed their car into a bus. One of them ended up losing an arm.
"That's unfortunate to hear," Lucien said, sounding sympathetic and Nyla turned back to him. "But I'm sure you made the right decision." He smiled at her, and Nyla felt all traces of guilt leave her heart. She smiled back. How did this man manage to quell any feelings of doubt from her heart so effortlessly? Lucien proceeded to help her pick out a few books for Max. Once she'd accumulated enough books to last the man a few weeks, she made to bid the Lucien goodbye when a tiny voice stopped her.
"It's that your girlfriend, Professor Lucien?" Nyla turned to see two little girls standing a few feet away from Lucien. One was smiling brightly at Nyla, looking fascinated while the other was frowning at Lucien, cheeks puffed as if she'd been insulted.
"She can't be his girlfriend because I'm his girlfriend!" The angry girl insisted, and the other one laughed at her. Lucien was looking down at the two with a strange sort of fondness. The angry girl turned to Nyla. "Who are you?!" Nyla smiled and bent down, so she was eye level with the girl.
"I'm a doctor." The effect was instant. The anger disappeared from the girl's face, and nervousness took its place. Nyla laughed. "Don't worry. I'm a doctor for grown-ups." The girl blinked and glanced at Lucien.
"So, would you treat Lucien if he hurt himself?" She asked, and Nyla smiled at Lucien.
"Of course! But that's something I hope never happens." She said, and Lucien smiled at her.
"But it did happen!" The girl insisted, and Nyla blinked at her. "He cut himself on some paper and doesn't have any bandaids with him so he can't treat it!" Nyla directed a look at Lucien, who was now smiling with a slight amount of nervousness.
"Is this true?" She asked, tone serious.
"I'm fine." He insisted, and Nyla huffed before turning back to the girl.
"Men. They think they're invincible." She whispered, and the girl giggled. Nyla stood up and pulled out a small bandaid with white doves on it. "Sit down." She told Lucien, and he immediately obeyed, taking a seat at the nearby reading table. He held out his finger and Nyla discovered it was a rather deep papercut. She frowned and bent down, taking his finger in her own to examine thoroughly. "This is deep, Lucien." She looked up at him. "What did you do?"
"He was trying to read us a story but ended up cutting himself." The happy girl said, and the other one looked at Nyla with worry.
"Will he be okay?" Nyla smiled at them.
"He'll be fine." She turned back to his finger and unwrapped the bandaid. She gracefully wrapped it around the cut before giving it a light kiss. She then winked at the girls. "A doctor's kiss ensures any wound will heal." The girls cheered and she risked a glance at Lucien to see he was looking at her with fondness. She flushed and looked back at the girls. "Now, about this story." They stopped cheering to looked at her.
"Yeah! He didn't get to finish it because he hurt himself." Nyla smiled and took a seat on the ground.
"How about I tell you one of my favourite stories instead since the silly professor hurt himself. It's my own creation?" The girls blinked then nodded eagerly, sitting down in front of Nyla. She chuckled then hummed, grabbing her chin. "How to start?" She muttered before smiling. "Oh, I know!" She made herself comfortable before continuing.
"Once upon a time, there was this beautiful, white dove..."
Lucien watched as Nyla started her story, using simple words to keep the little girls engaged. "Now this pure white dove was beautiful and loved by those around her dearly, but she was sad. You see, this dove, well, she didn't have any friends." The girls' faces saddened, and Lucien smiled. "She had three great sisters but no friends. So one day, she decided to go and look for a friend. She took to the skies and searched high and low for a place that could give her a friend. But everywhere she went, she was rejected." Lucien frowned. It was apparent that Nyla was the 'dove' in the story. "Why? They never said. They just knew she wasn't any ordinary dove."
"Tired from the long journey, she decided to rest in a giant camphor tree alone on the top of the hill. For some reason, it spoke to her. Perhaps it was because they were both alone." Lucien blinked, surprised. A camphor tree? Suddenly, a precious memory he cherished dearly flashed behind his eyes and Lucien locked his eyes onto Nyla. She couldn't be...? "But, it turned out the tree wasn't alone after all because underneath it sat a boy who was just as lonely as the dove." Lucien couldn't believe it. Was it really her?
Looking down at the drawing before him, Lucien sighed. No matter what he did, his drawings were always the same. Flawed and lacking in colour. In fact, his whole life was lacking in colour. Closing the book, Lucien made to get up and leave the comfort of the camphor tree when a rare sight caught his eye. It was a girl wearing a beanie, hiding her hair, making her way up the hill. There wasn't anything particularly special about her other than the fact she was a palette of colours. It had been so long since Lucien had seen colour. The girl stopped at the top of the hill and caught her breath before looking up and spotting Lucien.
Panic washed through the girl's eyes, but it was quickly suppressed, being turned into nervousness. She swallowed before raising her hand in a small wave. "Hi." Her voice was soft and quiet, being carried by the wind to reach Lucien's ears. He smiled at her and waved back.
"Hi." She stood at the edge of the hill, shuffling nervously. Her sparkling blue eyes suddenly locked onto his drawing book and Lucien saw joy flash through them. She made to open her mouth, most likely to ask him about it but decided against it. Instead, she turned away. "Do you want to sit down?"
The girl turned back towards him at his question and nodded. She slowly shuffled her way over and took a seat next to him, as if expecting him to attack her. Lucien thought the idea ridiculous. He would never dare hurt something so beautiful. "What-" She cut herself off before shaking her head. "What were you drawing?" She asked, and Lucien opened up his sketchbook, not feeling the need to hide his creations from the girl.
"A tree." The girl looked down at his drawing, all the fear and nervousness gone from her eyes. Instead, they now contained joy and curiosity.
"It looks good." She said, offering him a small smile. Lucien smiled back. He knew his tree was terrible but decided not to call the girl out on her lie. She looked away and at the ground, a pink flush overcoming her cheeks. "Could...could you draw something for me?" She whispered, and Lucien nodded before realising she wasn't watching him.
"Of course." The girl turned and looked at him, offering him the brightest smile he'd ever seen. Lucien smiled in return.
"Could you draw me a dove?" She looked down, slightly embarrassed. "They're my favourite bird." Lucien nodded and turned to a new page. The girl sat and watched him draw a poor imitation of a dove, those amazing blue eyes never leaving the page. In the end, it was a rather lacklustre drawing, not at all what the girl probably imagined. But she didn't seem to care. Instead, she took the sketch and folded it up, placing it securing in her pocket. Then she hugged Lucien. "Thank you." She whispered into his ear, and Lucien actually felt embarrassment course through him.
The girl let go and ripped out a page from his sketchbook, grabbing his pencil. Then she was drawing. Lucien simply watched her, surprised at her sudden boldness. He couldn't see what she was drawing, but it looked complicated. Soon, she revealed the final product. It was the camphor tree they were sitting under. It lacked colour, and it was nowhere near a perfect representation, but Lucien found it perfect anyway. The girl sighed the drawing 'dove'. Her watch suddenly went off, and she blinked, shock running through her eyes. Then she was gone, bidding Lucien a quick goodbye. She left the drawing of the camphor tree, though.
Lucien blinked, coming out of the memory and staring at Nyla. Now that he was genuinely looking at her, he felt stupid for not realising sooner. The fact that she was full of colour should have been the first sign, but it was blue of her eyes that really sold him on the idea. The shade was the exact same. Lucien smiled at Nyla. He never thought he'd see that girl again, but here she was, telling the story of their meeting right before his eyes.
He was surprised that shy, nervous girl had grown into the beautiful, intelligent woman before him. That was when the gravity of the situation hit him. If Nyla was indeed who they thought she was, then Lucien was going to have to cause this ray of colour pain. Sadness overtook Lucien face as he watched Nyla laugh along with the little girls in front of her. He then closed his eyes. It didn't matter. He had a goal and was going to achieve it, no matter the sacrifices...