Lisa figures it was part of the job; that’s honestly the worst way to say it. Like it’s something that’s unimportant. In the grand scheme of things maybe it was– others would argue that maybe it wasn’t. Who was she to know? She never had the chance, never really had the opportunity to think through it, feel it; it’s something reduced to a mere job requirement. Something you’d be familiar with, forced into, if she wants to be specific, and maybe that’s the reason why she’s so detached from the thought of it all. Of course … now was a far different matter entirely, not when she realizes there are weirder ways to learn about death .
Her first ever brush with death was when she was already five months into the job. It was messy; a car crash along the dark, slippery road. A guy, still holding on to his phone when he was extracted from the crumpled piece of metal that was once his car. She’d be lying right now if she said it didn’t affect her in any way. First experiences always hold a special place in one’s heart, right? You’re taught one thing in training and experience another in the actual practice. It was like that. Suddenly thoughts of what-ifs, why’s, the how’s, and everything comes flooding in and for a brief moment you wonder– what if it was someone you knew, what if he was speeding back home in time for dinner? What if… what if… But the truth of the matter is that, you don’t really have the privilege nor the time to think through the answers. You’re expected to move and to think in split second decisions to keep them from dying.
It seems like, if she thinks about it more, it’s two months later that she’ll have found out what death really is like.
Yes, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when she sees her there. Standing. Looking.
Not that she isn’t accustomed to audiences, nor crowds. In fact it’s one of the things she has learned to deal with.
“Lisa! Did you hear what I said?”
Chaeyoung gives her a quick scathing look that brings her back to where she was. Pulls her where she’s needed and not… drowning in someone else’s brown eyes that did more than just reflect the flames from the burning building.
“We’re not getting any pulse at all.”
There it was.
“I’m on it.” She answers out of impulse, mentally preparing herself to do CPR on the woman.
“Lisa…” Chaeyoung’s voice had that certain lilt of concern, and Lisa’s not sure if it’s for the victim or for her. “She’s…” She hears Chaeyoung sigh, not really enough to get Lisa’s eyes off of the woman whose face is no longer recognizable.
“She’s non-viable at this point. I’ve paged and asked clearance, we’re terminating resuscitative efforts.” Chaeyoung’s hands were gentle, and Lisa wondered how long she’d been gripping the BVM. “Time of death, 11:52pm.”
It takes Lisa another brief second to grab the report and log in what her fellow paramedic just muttered, minus the curses that follow and the almost tears from the blonde.
“God, she’s the second one…”
Lisa doesn’t really register that one. Not sure if Chaeyoung meant second victim, second body, or was it death count by now?
The smell of soot and smoke mixed with the frigid winter air worked its way deep into the filters of her mask. It makes every intake of breath uncomfortable. It stings, and by the time the fifth victim was recovered, called out and logged, zipped up in a black body bag to be sent to the hospital morgue, she couldn’t tell if she was breathing in smoke or the scent of charred flesh that hung heavily in the air.
Her body worked automatically, brain programmed to move and assist even if she couldn’t remember the last time she slept nor had her cup of coffee. Lisa doesn’t know if it’s a gift or a curse at this point, only knows that she’d been living and breathing the emergency response life quite precariously.
She kneels to give a young boy immediate first aid by the side of the road, careful to keep him away from the growing number of body bags and fire fighters.
“Hey champ, I’m going to ask a couple of questions okay?” She whispers, careful to keep her voice gentle and soothing. “Does it hurt here?” She checks for any trace of injury, carefully checking his breathing for any signs of possible smoke inhalation.
“My mo-m she… she’s still insi-de.”
It’s second nature by now. To put on a soft smile and an added gentle touch.
“Hey… she’ll be alright. Yeah? The firefighters are doing their best and you’ll see your mom soon. Right now we’ll get you all patched up. So that when you see her again she wouldn’t be so worried.”
Lisa ruffles his hair, moving to rub off soot from his cheek before patting the warm skin softly. “I’ll be right with you after all of this is over and we’ll go look for your mommy, okay?” Lisa looks into his eyes, sees the fear and knows she has to be firmer. It’s a little harsh, but things need to be when it’s required. “I mean it champ. We’ll find her. I need you to go with this officer in the meantime. It’s real hot here and we don’t want you feeling woozy or sick, okay?” She runs her hand across his cheeks, wiping away traces of ash that clung to the skin with sweat. Caressing it before she tells him to go with a police officer who’ll keep him safe while the fire continues to be put out.
He nods once and bites back a tear.
“You’re doing amazing.”
It’s second nature by now, but it doesn’t change the fact that Lisa hates it. Lying. To make people feel better, when she knows they’ll only have their hearts broken, shattered, teared into pieces hours after.
It’s in this brief moment of weakness that she sees her again, amongst the crowd across the street. Not that she was out of place, there’s certainly nothing different with her standing there. Ebony hair flowing with the winter breeze, wrapped up in a gray coat and hands buried in pockets to keep them warm.
“Lisa! They’ve managed to extract more people from the building. Jisoo’s paging us over to a red tag patient.”
She goes back to autopilot mode, moving against the frenzy of responders with Chaeyoung to meet up with Jisoo who gets them up to date with a burn patient.
“Thirty-five, female with multiple face and neck burns, there’s inflammation in the oropharynx, stridor, and she’s been unconscious since extraction” Jisoo finishes in one breath, eyes darting from the woman who was already covered with a dry sheet to prevent hypothermia on the stretcher.
“Let’s get her intubated stat. I’ll page the hospital and let them know we’re on our way to trauma.”
Lisa moves with precision to start intubation while Jisoo moves to start an IV line, both falling into a silence long practiced for focus. In a matter of minutes they’re en route to the hospital, and the only thing drowning out the sounds of sirens from completely giving Lisa a migraine was the need to make sure the patient is stable.
It’s when they arrive at the emergency room and the adrenaline rush from the emergency starts falling away that she realizes the peculiarity of the moment and the tranquil look on the woman’s face amidst panic.
“You have got to stop Lisa. You’re practically a walking humanoid made of caffeine by now.” Chaeyoung’s intention was nice– it always was. It seems that her senior had such a soft spot for her ever since she joined the team, and now that she found out she’d been having trouble sleeping she’s taking it upon herself to make sure Lisa stops whatever dependency she’d grown to have over coffee.
“We could slice you up and you’d be bleeding coffee by now.” Jisoo chimed in.
She’s being dismissive about it because she didn’t have a choice and it wasn’t like she’s taking more than the safe daily dosage anyway, but the look on her friends face tells her that she needs more than just an im fine to get them off her back. They’re catching up on paperwork for documentation from the recent cases they’ve handled, and the increased cases they’ve had recently were just the tip of the iceberg and Lisa wonders just how much more cups of coffee will carry her through her last forty-eight hour shift for the week.
“Seriously, I’m fine. It’s ju—”
Chaeyoung’s radio goes off and Lisa’s not quite sure if it makes her a douche if she’s thankful for the distraction from the topic. Considering 95% of these meant bad news.
“Base to twenty-seven. Bravo respond to intersection in 13th st and Greeley Ave. Responding to a prio 1 and 2, 2-vehicle MVC called to us by fire.”
Lisa and Jisoo didn’t even have time to nod along as they rushed towards the emergency response vehicle.
Lisa knows it was moments like these that make her wonder if her humanity has been switched off from the amount of deaths she has dealt with and if it makes her any less human to be distant. The thought of death becoming more and more bleak and foreign to her. It was still snowing and the road was dark, heavy skid marks showing just how much they’ve both tried to regain control of the vehicle. Only– they weren’t so lucky and the woman who was extracted from the passenger seat was the unluckier of the two.
It’s sad, really, the smell of burnt rubber sticking to the back of her mouth where she’s beginning to taste it and the sharp metallic scent of blood giving the former a run for its money in whichever would make Lisa nauseous.
She jogs closer to the woman whose face was riddled with broken pieces of glass and her breath barely noticeable. Chaeyoung motioned for Jisoo to address the driver whose leg was trapped between metal and Lisa… Lisa was to apply CPR. Anything at this point to get the victim breathing again, long enough for her to survive the trip back to emergency and hopefully survive everything else.
“Blood pressure has dropped to 60/40,” they’re both working in a systematic fashion, something born from doing the same routine far too many times. It doesn’t mean that any of them were immune to the underlying stress and trauma that comes with the practiced composure. “Can you get on her and do CPR? I’ll have an Epinephrine ready.”
She doesn’t know what to make of it.
Not the CPR, she’s given far too many of them to have her body acting on habit and impulse. It’s the sight a couple of feet from her where people have come in clusters to look into the accident of the night and there Lisa sees her again. A yellow coat that makes her eyes look more brown despite the hooded darkness from the continual snow. It’s not her eyes that make Lisa gaze at her rather stupidly. It’s the way she’s cradling an apple and biting into it slowly– in a way that almost makes Lisa hear the crunch off of the apple’s flesh.
She shakes the feeling off and diverts her attention back to Chaeyoung, “I’m going to continue this Chaeng, let me know when’s a good time we can check for rhythm.”
Her arms were beginning to feel the tautness from the continuous chest pumps, and somewhere at the back of her mind she can’t get rid of brown eyes and smirking lips on an apple.
“Okay Lisa, back off the chest, any pulses?”
“Shit.” she mutters a little harshly.
“Appears to be an asystole.”
“Okay, I want you to continue. I’ll get her a second dose of Epinephrine.”
Lisa nods, brows furrowed and focused on maintaining compression rate. She chanced a glance at the woman’s face, and winced. Most of the blood from the wounds had dried and were beginning to cake the edges of the glass that were still buried into her skin. Quick flashes of smiles possibly exchanged between the couple enters her mind and she wonders if they had a fight before it happened or if they were in a state of bliss when it did.
Lisa hoped it was the latter.
Chaeyoung motions for her to stop, checking for rhythm again. The somber look on her senior speaks for itself and Lisa lets out a breath she’d been holding in for quite some time.
“Hi, this is Chaeyoung from South Medic 27, I’m calling in for a cease resuscitation order from a physician…” She pats Lisa on the back, before moving somewhere quieter where the sirens aren’t as loud to let medical control know. As per protocol, Lisa continues with the CPR even though she knows it wouldn’t work, waiting for Chaeyoung’s orders.
She takes the time to comb through the now dispersed crowd, police have set up yellow tape around the crash site keeping bystanders away. Lisa feels a different kind of cold settle inside her bones and she shudders out of a need to shake it off. She freezes, unable to move and a certain heaviness builds in the center of her chest she can’t quite explain.
She has never seen eyes so empty and devoid of any emotion.
Chaeyoung’s voice feels close but she knows none of whatever she’s saying is really registering. She feels the temperature around her to drop, and a ringing in her ears that makes her unsteady. The metallic scent clinging everywhere, her mask, her clothes and she figures even on her hair.
It takes her a minute to realize Chaeyoung has been looking at her with a curious expression on her face.
“Time of death, 7:49pm.” she says in turn, turning to glance at her wristwatch.
Chaeyoung gives something between a mumble and a sigh as a response, writing it on the form before she heads off to get a stretcher ready.
It’s something out of impulse, if Lisa wants to lie out of the building curiosity in her chest. She looks up and meets her gaze. It’s quick and unassuming, but Lisa doesn’t miss the quirk in her lips and the slow-building lopsided smirk that’s gone as quickly as it was on her face, before she moves to disappear into the crowd.
It’s the smirk and expressionless eyes that unnerves her.
“What the fuck.”
Lisa blames it on the coffee, sleeplessness, heck add in overworking from double shifts and even skipping a few meals. It’s definitely her mind playing tricks on her. Manifesting someone who’s oddly enough always there whenever they have someone dying.
The thing about Lisa is, she isn’t superstitious. Doesn’t care for ghosts, spirits, any of the beliefs and now that she’d seen more than the average person when it comes to people dying, in all forms and ways. She’s pushed back further into believing that there was an afterlife. Why would people allow their loved ones to suffer if it did exist in some form or way. It makes absolutely no sense at all.
It’s that simple. It’s either the woman was just there out of pure coincidence, she’s some kind of newspaper or whatever reporter who’s always first on the scene, or she simply is a figment of Lisa’s imagination.
The second option, she admits was the most plausible.
It’s also the only thing in her mind as she approaches the bench outside the hospital emergency room where she surprisingly finds her sitting.
“Hey.” Lisa’s obviously stupid.
And also surprised.
“I–” what? Wanted to know if you were real or not… are you a goddamn stalker?
She meets Lisa’s gaze, tearing it from the view of trees in front of her that’s collecting snow. There’s something about her that makes Lisa take a tentative step back.
Her voice was surprisingly soft and gentle despite the harshness that she sees etched in her eyes. It comes and goes though, Lisa notes. The way she’d look at the emergency room with a penetrating gaze before softening when she moves to look at Lisa. The only constant was the curious lopsided grin that made her look rather intimidating.
“I don’t know what to say.” Lisa ends up admitting.
It irks her to hear her arrogant answer and if Lisa has some sense of restraint then she would’ve excused herself and went back into the hospital but something about the way she dusts off snow from the bench, creating this space for sitting beside her oddly pulls at Lisa, making her try again.
“It’s kind of hard to talk to someone you see every time at accident scenes… Are you uh.. Are you a reporter or something?”
She gets a knowing look, a slight tilt of the head, and her patting on the space on the bench as an answer. This was more than enough to make Lisa accept the invitation and take the seat beside her.
“You can consider me one, I suppose.” She says softly, smiling into nothing in front of her.
Lisa nods, not really knowing what she’s agreeing to at the moment because it still makes no sense.
“You’re quite the doubter, aren’t you?”
This takes Lisa by surprise.
“I… I guess because the answer doesn’t make sense.”
“It doesn’t have to. Not much in this world makes sense after all.”
She’s laughing and it warms up something inside Lisa’s chest. Blooming to a full on fire when she looks back and gives Lisa a playful wink; her brown eyes looking more muted amidst the snow and darkness.
“It has to, I mean… Most, if not all makes sense.” Lisa feels stupid, but it makes her smile even more. The corners of her lips curve upwards and it almost makes Lisa go breathless. “Really… well I think that it should make sense at least.” Lisa follows up in an awkward ramble.
She doesn’t say anything in return, only looks at Lisa with a bemused expression and the small smile on her lips.
“It’s nice to finally have a name to the face.” Jennie whispers.
Before Lisa can say anything in response, her phone shrills in the confines of her pockets and a text message saying they have a Priority 3 accident down by the road.
“You should go.”
Lisa thinks it’s stupid and reckless but she asks anyways. “Will you be there?”
She waits half a beat for an answer, and breathes out an audible sigh when it’s likely she’s not getting any at this point. So she turns and almost jogs back when she hears the soft, “maybe.”
She hides her building annoyance and disappointment, telling Jisoo that it was probably lack of sleep that’s making her grumpy. Except she knows she’s lying.
“You should really accept Chaeyoung’s offer, a day off will do you some good Lisa.”
“I’ll think about it.” The answers come out curt and rough, which she retracts with a tight smile. “Really, I will.”
Jisoo nods in understanding and shifts her focus on the splint she’s trying to wrap around a very whiny boy.
The accident was mild, no severe injuries, just a couple of broken bones and sprains they could work with, but it doesn’t stop Lisa from glancing into the crowd of concerned parents and school officials, hoping to see a familiar face.
Lisa’s last thought before being called over was Chaeyoung’s scream of a priority 1 over the phone, it’s not their usual. Not when he’s a little over eighteen and bleeding off of a gunshot wound that Lisa’s applying pressure on on his chest. He’s coughing out spurts of blood and Chaeyoung runs off to grab the defibrillator while asking Jisoo to go for CPR.
It’s both weird and sad. The thought hits her while her hands are drenched in blood and she’s trying to get the bleeding to stop except it doesn’t and she figures that maybe it wouldn’t but that’s not what she’s taught during her early years in EMT training.
Jisoo was pumping on his chest, one, two, three, then a beat before she continued with the rhythm. There’s a gasp and a brief look of relief on Jisoo’s face and a sigh from Lisa. She pushes against the wound a little harder and blood comes out to stain the makeshift bandage they’ve managed to bundle up against the wound.
It’s at this point that Jisoo does the pumping thrice and Lisa’s eyes scan the crowd of onlookers that she sees her standing a little ways far off the crowd. Almost hugging herself with a furrowed look on her face that makes Lisa whisper, “He’s not going to make it.”
“What? Why would you say that?” came Jisoo’s hiss.
“I meant, the wound’s too deep and he lost too much blood. The call came in a little too late Chu,” she says out loud, Because she’s standing right there… is what she’s really thinking about.
Lisa's eyes never left hers and something about her presence there felt a little too invasive, a sense of foreboding that draped and stayed in the air.
Chaeyoung comes over panting, just as his whole body twitches, an ugly gurgling sound from his throat causes the wound to bubble over with blood that almost stains Lisa’s overalls before she decides to let go and watch his own hands slide to fall limply on his side. Chaeyoung bites the inside of her cheeks, letting out a gruff sounding sigh. Jisoo looks away, taking her hands off his chest shooting upward mechanically to check for a pulse on his neck, it takes her a couple of seconds to whisper a quiet, “8:59pm.”
She smells of sandalwood and iris.
It’s weird, even for Lisa to have that be the first thought that enters her mind while she walks out of the emergency room and finds her join in on her walk, like it’s something that wasn’t at all odd.
“Are you stalking me now?”
Jennie stays silent beside her, keeping a modest distance between them.
“You know it’s rude to barge in on other people, right?”
This time Lisa stops to face her, she had a little boy die on arrival and it was messing her mood, and Jennie was the closest, most accessible person to place her misplaced anger on.
Jennie gives her a small smile and a nod, “I figured you’d need some company.”
It’s enough to make Lisa feel guilty, and pick up walking again.
“It would be nicer if you weren’t such a stranger.” Lisa muttered under her breath after they’ve walked some distance in silence. Jennie rubbing an apple against the fabric of her turtleneck.
“Oh, you’d be surprised to know I wasn’t so much of a stranger.” She takes a quick peek at Lisa to grin widely and it puffs her cheeks in an adorable way that makes Lisa turn her gaze away and onto an empty bench beneath a tree in the hospital grounds.
She hears the distinct crunch off of the apple’s flesh and Jennie’s sounds of contentment.
“I feel like I’d be surprised regardless.”
“Maybe you will.”
“Do you always talk like that?”
Lisa takes the initiative to sit down on the bench and look up to invite her over which Jennie does, “Like what?”
It makes Lisa let out a gruff sounding breath that Jennie laughs at. Clearly she finds teasing Lisa something worthy of a beautiful afternoon activity.
“You should learn how to ask better questions if you want better answers, Lisa.”
Lisa finds her cheeks warming despite the obvious annoyance building in her at the mention of her name. It’s soft and small and rolls off her mouth in a way that it sounds as if it’s being sung.
“Okay then, can I start all over?”
“With the questions.”
Jennie chuckles, her eyes turning into little slits that make her look even younger. “No one’s stopping you.”
The smirk catches Lisa off-guard and for a minute she forgets where they are, the question in her mind and that she’s obviously gazing a little too much at this point. Jennie nudges her on the shoulder slowly, effectively getting her back on track.
“Who are you?”
“My name’s Jennie Kim.”
There’s the lopsided grin again, “and?”
“You can do better.”
Jennie turns away briefly, turning her attention over to a stray cat that came out of its hiding from the bushes to rub against her jeans. Lisa takes the opportunity to take in everything about her. There’s this endearing way she tilts her head when she’s amused, the loud awkward sounding laughter that falls away from her mouth whenever she’s happy and the way her eyes would light up, making it easier for Lisa to look through the myriad of browns reflecting the sunlight.
“I’m sure you’re more than just Jennie Kim, what were you doing back then? During those accidents?”
“I was… merely collecting.” her answer was serious that it almost made Lisa feel bad for asking.
She nods once, petting the cat under its furry neck and humming a sad sounding tune.
The cat shrieks away from the sounds of ambulance sirens and it causes the apple in Jennie’s hands to fall. They both reach out to try and pick it up. Her fingers brushing Jennie’s hands.
Is the first thing that Lisa says, and she almost winces at the rudeness of it. Jennie doesn’t seem to take it as an offense, only laughing at Lisa’s observation.
She wants to take it back, say sorry for being crude and for suddenly realizing she’s a crappy acquaintance. She couldn’t consider herself being a friend at this point, yet. She almost finds the voice inside her to speak up, when her phone vibrates and she sees a prio 5 flashing on her screen.
“I’msosorryIwasrudeIreallyhavetogo.” Lisa says in one breath as she sprints back, the only memory she has right after was Jennie nodding, looking solemn.
It’s a huge road accident, a ten wheeler truck losing control over the brakes and ramming into multiple cars at a red light. There’s smoke and burnt rubber and the smell of gas in the air that Lisa almost chokes. Handing out a mask over to an old woman who’s only injury was thank God, a bruise on the shoulder, that Lisa knows would still need to be checked regardless. To make sure there isn’t any internal bleeding around the area.
She runs off to Jisoo who’s making sure the guy on her lap was elevated and had enough air space around him as he struggled to keep his breathing even. Lisa can’t tell how much of his blood was on Jisoo’s scrubs and how much he had lost in the process.
“Chu, everything alright here?”
“We’re losing him Lisa...We need to get him to the emergency room fast,” Jisoo looks at her with urgency in her voice and eyes.
Lisa nods and runs off towards an ambulance, asking assistance for a stretcher when she sees a flash of ebony hair and sad looking eyes from across the street. It takes Lisa off kilter, almost running into another medic helping a kid who she apologized to profusely before she had the sense to explain and show where Jisoo was. Only to find her shaking her head, confirming his death.
She hasn’t seen her since, and it affected her in ways that made Chaeyoung take drastic measures into her own hands. Forcing Lisa to take the day off to which she grudgingly accepted.
“You need some rest Lisa… come on, it’s not like this is some kind of punishment.” Chaeyoung reasoned out.
“I don’t need to rest Chaeng, you know that. I’m perfectly capable of working.”
“Someone… told me you were talking to yourself out in the hospital garden… I… I’m sorry Lisa, but I’m not taking no for an answer. You need this.”
This brings her to the park at eight in the evening. An odd choice, an even odder time but Lisa feels more at peace when no one’s around.
“You’re cold.” Lisa shivers from the way her breath grazed her own warm skin. A heavy coat draped over her shoulders.
“You!” was all Lisa could manage to say, before her thoughts fail her and she finds herself looking into her eyes.
“Me.” She smiles dismissively, arranging the coat on Lisa’s shoulder. Briefly, out of accident or not, Lisa isn’t sure, grazing a finger against Lisa’s chin before sitting beside her.
They both fell into a silence that was far from awkward. Lisa was breathing rather heavily, trying to come up with something to say, while Jennie was biting into an apple. Both staring out into the thicket of trees whose leaves were crowned by the silver of the moonlight.
“I haven’t seen you in a while,” the whisper was barely audible, muted by the sounds of cars and horns from the far away street.
Jennie nods and stops mid bite. Brows furrowed in some afterthought before she settled on leaving the apple untouched in her lap and her full focus on Lisa who seemed to want to avoid her gaze.
“I’ve been… away.”
“Is it because there’s no deaths so far?” Lisa tries to bite back the anger in her tone. It doesn’t make sense to her but for some reason it makes sense for her to ask. The realization only gnawing at her consciousness or maybe she just refused to ask, given the nature of it.
It takes a full minute before Jennie nods in response slowly.
“I don’t get it! Who are you exactly? What the fuck do you want?! Why are you always there when someone dies on my watch?” She barely hides the animosity in the questions. It wasn’t something she feels about her, but rather more about the circumstances they’re in.
“You’re finally learning how to ask the right questions.”
There’s a far away tone in her voice and it makes Lisa look back at her. She looked tired and pale and if it weren’t for Lisa’s own self shivering from the sudden gust of cold, she would’ve reached out and returned the coat.
“What would you think if I said I’m death?”
Lisa almost chokes on oxygen. She takes a closer look, something that she hopes will tell her Jennie’s joking but all she finds is the tranquil look on her face the first time she saw her.
“Death?” She repeats slowly, as if still trying to understand what the word meant even if she knows what the damn thing means.
“It’s… peculiar. How you can see me, hear me, touch me….” Jennie traces circles at the back of Lisa’s hands where it leaves a cold trail that makes Lisa shiver. “It’s… even more peculiar how… warm you feel.”
Lisa doesn’t know what to say, her brain has malfunctioned. Refusing to generate logical thoughts that made sense and not her whole being wanting to reach out to hold Jennie’s hands. This is all absurd.
The moment the thought enters Lisa’s mind, Jennie pulls away. Giving her a somber smile. “Is this too much?”
“Finding out death is gentle, has a softness in her voice and touch, a beautiful smile and soft eyes? Yes.” Lisa answers without much thinking and with much groaning the moment she realizes what she had said.
“You’re funny.” Jennie adds, grinning widely.
“And you’re death.”
Lisa still has a hard time wrapping her mind around the thought. Jennie just laughs.
“I’m being serious.” Lisa muttered, reaching out to hold Jennie’s hand regardless of what the big part of her logical brain says. Shocking her own self with how cold her skin was and how she’s giggling at the identical look of surprise in Jennie’s face.
It takes a couple of seconds before Jennie’s surprise blooms into a smile. Allowing her fingers to fit through in between Lisa’s own.
“I’m being serious, too.” She takes a deep breath and reaches for a blade of leaf beside her with her free hand. Looking at Lisa briefly with a knowing look, almost as if she’s trying to contest Lisa’s belief and trying to prove a point. She does so effectively when the leaf turns orange, then brown and brittle in her hands. “See?”
“Never believed in death and afterlife.” Jennie finishes her thought for her. “I know.” Lisa looks at her, almost squeezing Jennie’s hands in the process of understanding. “Maybe that’s why you can see me, you’re… not afraid of me.”
“No…” Lisa almost blushes at another thought.
“You have an adorable crush on me….” Jennie grins, “I can read your mind.” She whispers.
“I can hear traces of your thoughts. Not all of them. The very strong ones.”
Lisa wants to let go of her hand and hide behind her own.
“Like the thoughts you’ve had of wanting to kiss me.” Jennie reaches out and plants a small one on Lisa’s cheeks and despite it being cold as ice to the touch it brings the warmth that was beginning to become familiar to her.
“I didn’t know there were weirder ways… to learn about... Death.” Lisa could feel the flush on her cheeks growing as Jennie laughed, “other than watching people die... and, being with them when it happens.”
Jennie only nods in understanding before she stands up and looks at Lisa apologetically, in time for her phone to beep with a prio 1 notification. Lisa looks at it and then back at Jennie with a knowing nod.
“I guess this is goodbye?”
Lisa takes her usual coffee break outside the emergency, taking on a leisurely pace before stopping at the sight in front of her.
Jennie was rubbing on a stray dog's belly, laughing as the dog's tail wagged in appreciation at finally having someone play with him, or give him affection he’s been deprived of.
“I never knew death could be so…”
“Humane?” Jennie finishes the thought for her and Lisa nods. “You humans are so… invested in making something great out of nothing, at chasing material things that you forget the best things in life are the moments in passing.”
“I never knew death could be so sappy too.” Lisa joked.
“He doesn’t have much time.” Jennie looks up at Lisa with a sad smile before turning her attention to the dog. “I’ll probably be back three days from now to pick him up and take him where he’s going to be cherished.”
At this Lisa kneels beside the dog and ruffles his matted fur, earning herself a lick.
“I’m sorry.” she whispers.
Jennie smiles at her and reaches over, kissing her quickly on the lips. A new habit she developed, she reasons out, which Lisa happily accepted. It leaves a cold trace, something like a cold gust of wind in winter, snow on someone’s warm skin.
“You’re needed back in five minutes.”
Lisa nods in understanding, squeezing Jennie’s hand. “Will you be there?”
“Only if you and your people arrive late.”
Lisa nods again, stands up to straighten any crease on her scrubs. “I’ll get ready then. I’ll see you in three days.”
“I can always come visit if you ask me to, you know.” Jennie laughs, “I promise no one has to die.”
The next time she comes visiting is three days after as promised.
Lisa’s shift has finished and she sees her kneeling beside the bench, carefully running her hands over and over the dog’s fur. She doesn’t want to intrude, the look on Jennie’s face is soft, soft eyes, soft smile and from where Lisa is standing she could hear her hum that curious sad tune she sometimes hums out of the blue. The dog’s breath was slowly getting weaker and weaker and Jennie’s whispering a lot of “good boy’s” and “You’ve been amazing, it’s time to go home.” in the dog's ear while she gently pats his stomach.
Lisa’s breath hitches from unshed tears at the intimacy between death and the living. It’s when the dog’s body is still and Jennie’s eyes are closed shut as if in prayer that Lisa begins to take in the moment in front of her and wonders if Jennie offers the same comforting farewell and welcome between the living and the dead for people who die in accidents.
For a brief moment, Lisa is afraid to ask,
“Have you been waiting for long?” Jennie’s voice is gentle and a little amused.
“Long enough to see you give him one of the gentlest farewells I’ve seen.” Lisa manages to tell her the truth.
Jennie’s stroking the patch of fur behind the dog’s ear with a sad smile before she looks up at Lisa, “he deserves it, your people have been quite harsh towards him. He deserves nothing but the best.”
Lisa nods and thinks about the many times she’d neglected to come give him a pat when she still had the opportunity. The smile on Jennie’s face is understanding and she stands up to offer her hand.
“Don’t be harsh on yourself, it happens and the regret comes much much later.”
Lisa reaches out of instinct, the cold is both a shock and a welcome relief but she honestly doesn’t pay too much attention to it the moment her body gets accustomed to the sensation and Jennie doesn’t say anything about it either.
They walk in silence for a while before Jennie starts singing. It’s in a language that Lisa can’t identify, partly European she thinks. It has an uneven melody that’s hard to appreciate at the beginning but the more Jennie sings the more it begins to comfort her.
“Winter will end soon.” Lisa says out of the blue, and Jennie doesn’t stop. Choosing to tighten her hold on Lisa’s hand instead and settles on almost whispering the song between them.
Lisa is a little shy to ask but she figures Jennie has read her mind, she wasn’t really being subtle about the thought either.
They pass by the more crowded streets into a quiet off road lane that leads to the metro station where Jennie usually waits in silence while she watches Lisa get on board. Leaving when Lisa thinks Jennie's satisfied that she’s out of visibility.
“You’re wondering if I’ll stop visiting by then?” Lisa doesn’t realize she has stopped singing and was looking at her with a mix of hurt and amusement in her eyes.
“Well… I uhhh…”
“You seriously thought that death is a seasonal thing?” Jennie laughs out loud and it sometimes registers a little late inside Lisa’s mind that she’s the only one who can hear that wonderful sound and it never fails to put a smile on her face, even if she knows she just did something stupid. “For a medic, you’re kinda dumb.” Jennie adds in teasingly.
Lisa picks up walking again, and Jennie follows. Matching her pace.
“Does death ever go on a holiday?” She blurts out when Jennie brushes her shoulder against hers briefly. Not intentionally of course, they sometimes walk towards each other's gravity and that resulted in what Lisa thinks is an adorable fumbling of two bodies.
“Wouldn’t the whole world celebrate if it did?” came Jennie’s teasing reply.
“I can’t imagine how… tiring it is to collect souls, and you’re almost with me the whole time! Who takes care of Europe? Of Africa? The Middle East? I don’t think you’ve ever been there, or are you there and here at the same time? How does–”
She feels Jennie’s cold lips on her and soft laughter before she pulls away.
“Maybe, we can talk about this some other time? Your train is almost here.” Lisa misses the feel of Jennie’s lips on her own and decides to tug at their joined hands to pull her closer.
“Why can’t you just come with me back to my apartment?” She whispers.
“Can I?” Lisa never once thought that death could be uncertain. She figures that if death did exist (and she does) that she’d be a creature of certainty. Of things that did not bear any trace of hesitance. But here she is, looking into Jennie’s eyes that’re filled with what she thinks is something along the lines of hope and a vulnerability in her voice that shakes, and suddenly her hold on Lisa’s hands is tentative and shy.
"I don't think we'd be breaking any laws of nature if I had you over?" Lisa teased, it's when she doesn't get a response or smile back that she adds in quickly. "or are we?"
Jennie shakes her head, biting her bottom lip. Brows furrowed in thought.
"Then what's wrong?"
"Nothing. Just, it'll be cold."
And it's Lisa's turn to laugh.
"I don't think that'll be a problem."
Lisa doesn't know if she should laugh or not. Jennie had a confused look on her face the moment the train moved for its next destination.
"Humans are such weird creatures." She says fondly. Playing with Lisa's finger on her lap.
It's a quiet night, not the usual fully packed ones during peak hours. The only people inside were an old woman who was drifting in and out of sleep and a nurse who was far too tired to wonder about Lisa and how she's talking to the space in front of her. Sometimes it can be hard to deal with death in public.
"She probably doesn't mean much with the looking. I mean, she can't see you." Lisa whispers back. Nudging her softly on the shoulder to get Jennie to loosen up her frown. "She's probably wondering why I'm talking to myself."
Jennie hums a non-committal answer and resorts to threading their fingers together. Resting both their hands on her lap where Lisa wonders if Jennie ever gets tired of looking at them. A slight shiver escapes Lisa's lips and Jennie almost lets go, it's the way Lisa holds on that keeps their hands right where they are.
"I don't mind the cold tonight." She adds softly.
"Nothing new on a cold night." Lisa gives her a warm smile.
Jennie seems to accept this answer and nods. The nurse up front has completely dozed off and Lisa was about to point it out when she feels Jennie let go, the sudden loss of contact made Lisa frown. It doesn't take long for Jennie to scoot closer, draping her yellow coat over Lisa's shoulder. She sets it carefully around Lisa, that it covers her arms where goosebumps have begun to appear.
"You're going to run out of coats at this rate."
Jennie smirks and doesn't give in to Lisa's hope for an answer. Instead she takes Lisa's hands in her own, running a quick chill down Lisa's spine. This time Jennie keeps it bundled under her coat where it gives Lisa's hand a certain kind of warmth, enough to make her body forget about the cold.
"I have a plethora of coats. I won't miss two." She finally says under her breath. Giving Lisa a quick smile before she hums.
Lisa allows the silence between them to settle before she faces her, leaning in to rest her forehead against Jennie’s.
“What are you singing?” Lisa doesn’t really expect an answer, it was barely a whisper and she figures Jennie was too absorbed with humming that she didn’t hear.
“It’s a Finnish lullaby,” She whispers back, eyes closed, picking up where the melody ends.
“What’s it about?”
She pulls away and smiles at Lisa that makes her cheeks puff, “Would you want me to sing it for you?”
“I… wouldn’t understand what it means.”
“You don’t have to, music has a way of conveying what it wants either way.” She lowered her voice as if conveying a secret between them. “Your stop is in a few minutes, and they’re both asleep...” She motioned towards the old woman and nurse dozing off. “Rest your head on my shoulder and take a quick nap. I’ll wake you up when we’re there.”
Jennie scoots closer and begins humming again, this time Lisa feels a little drowsy and takes her offer. She settles on the seat a little more comfortably and rests her head on Jennie’s shoulder. Her turtleneck sweater feels oddly warm despite knowing how cold she really is.
Lapsistain rakkain tää näyttämö on
Mis kuutamo kujillaan kulkee
Lisa breathes in her scent and finds it a little too comforting. She’d admit she’s been feeling really tired from work lately and Jennie’s voice is soothing.
Taipunut havu, kesä hoivassa sen
Valkomeren niin aavan
Joka aavekuun siivin
Saapuu mut kotiin noutamaan
She begins to drift off to sleep and dreams of snow.
She’s a little annoyed at all the shaking, and the rushed little whispers that’s pulling her away from sleep.
“Five more minutes.”
She doesn’t get any response, only a deep sounding snort that jerks her awake quite as effectively as the shaking.
“Your stop’s here.”
Lisa’s a bit confused, and the conductor looks a little annoyed.
“Uhh, yeah … yeah thanks.”
She takes a quick second to rub the sleep off of her eyes and look around. The mild disappointment slowly grows into something heavier the moment she realizes she’s alone. She stands up a second too soon and almost loses her balance, the yellow coat dropping on the train’s floor along with a piece of paper that says nothing but; sorry .
It was snowing heavily and she had her favorite cup of hot choco warming her hands as she listened to Jisoo talk about her new puppy and nods along whenever the conversation needs her to. It’s been a week and she hasn’t seen Jennie since that night in the train and she’s beginning to feel bad for wanting something to happen just so they’d cross paths.
“You seem a little off.” Jisoo teased.
“Yeah. Lack of sleep…”
“Dude, you’re always tired, don’t you ever sleep?”
Lisa takes a quick sip, taking her time before she shakes her head in response.
“We’re not picking you up next time, are we? Chaeyoung will be devastated, you’re her fave.”
Lisa only nods, finishes her cup in one drink and smiles at Jisoo, “I can’t sleep during winter, I hate the cold.”
She’s helping Chaeng get the burn patient off of the stretcher and into a new hospital gurney, wheeling her as fast as they could towards the trauma room where she’s carted off towards the trauma doctors to be taken care of. The glass doors closed and she could see Chaeyoung’s tired reflection and her own.
“She’ll be fine.”
Lisa knows it was more for Chaeyoung than it was for her. Her senior gives her a nod before turning away to go clean up. Lisa stands there, watching Jennie on the reflection of the doors before she turns towards her with a grimace.
“She’s here, we got her here in time.”
Jennie doesn’t say anything back.
“You’re being incredibly unfair if you came here for her.”
Was there any use talking to death? Would it help if she pleaded?
“She won’t make it tonight…” Jennie whispers back, meeting Lisa’s gaze. It flares up something heavy inside her chest, making the bile rise and if it weren’t for the cold, hesitant caress Jennie placed on her cheeks she would’ve said things that would place her on death’s number one list. “You’re tired. You should get some rest.”
“I’m fine.” Lisa bites back saying more and steps away. “Have fun waiting on her or something.” She mumbles under her breath before walking away as fast she can without attracting any attention from the hospital staff.
It was a couple of hours after midnight when she heard from Yeri that the woman died in the middle of surgery.
She decides it’s better off to take a walk even if it’s cold out.
“You’ll catch a cold.” Her voice is gentle, like her caress and it’s making Lisa's whole body relax out of impulse.
“You could’ve given her a second chance. She’s a single mom.” Lisa said a little too tightly. “No one’s going to … fuck! Look! She has a 2-year-old son, okay? You could’ve let her off the hook or something!”
There’s no change in Jennie’s calm demeanor nor was there any sign of remorse on her delicate features. Sometimes Lisa wonders how she can be so gentle and soft and be so cold the next.
“Aren’t you listening to me?!”
She blurts out hotly, something about Jennie tonight was making it hard for her to get a clearer grip on her emotions and she doesn’t know how to make it stop. She takes a step towards Jennie and stops. “I’m telling you she has a 2-year-old and you don’t even blink!?!”
“Don’t you have a heart?!” She deflates, almost losing steam.
“I don't get to decide, Lisa!”
“Then who fucking does?!” She could feel the heat rise up to her head, “I’m trying so hard! Every single day! So hard! And you just take every single one of them away!” it hits her all at once and the tears come rushing out. Out of being tired or mad or upset or disappointed, she really couldn’t tell. Maybe it was all of it at once.
With that, she storms away.
It’s a little after midnight when Lisa gets home from a double shift and the amount of stress made it hard for her not to fall in bed and fall asleep out of exhaustion the moment she laid down to rest.
It’s when she’s deep in sleep that Jennie comes to visit. It’s not something she usually does. She can’t remember the last time she visited a home without taking away someone who died in their sleep, out of old age, disease or accident, and yet here she was gazing at Lisa's sleeping figure. That alone makes her smile.
Jennie can’t tell, she’d been cold her entire existence and when the room temperature continues to drop she doesn’t realize, only finding it weird why Lisa was suddenly balling the blankets around her too much, why she’s frowning. She sees her shivering slightly and out of a weird impulse that’s been ingrained in her core ever since she met her, she strides to fix the blanket around her. Something was pulling her to make sure she was safe and Jennie tried to tuck her in beneath the blankets when Lisa grumbled. It was too late for her to take a step back, her gaze working out of its own accord and finding Lisa’s brown, honey eyes in the dark.
She blinks a couple of seconds before Jennie almost stumbles back from Lisa's scream. She doesn’t manage to utter her “don’t be scared” whisper when she’s pushed away a little too roughly, and Lisa’s wide-eyed expression of fear behind her blanket was more than enough to push Jennie to her feet. She grabs the glass of water Lisa keeps on her night stand and offers that.
Lisa blinks rapidly, a look of panic stays a little longer as she breathes in in uneven gasps. She looks at Jennie’s offering of water between them before a look of confusion settles on her face then into a look of recognition that’s riddled with a hint of annoyance that doesn’t go unnoticed.
“Why’re you here?” She doesn’t get a reply.
“Am I dying tonight?” she asks half-awkward half-curious, half-hurt. Jennie’s eyes get rounder at the question and she mouths a quick “No” all too fast.
“I uh, it’s… isn’t it cold?” Lisa’s a little out of breath.
Jennie honestly can’t tell if it is but nods anyway, noting how much Lisa’s shivering.
“I’m going to turn up the heater real quick… Uh… stay here, or something?”
Her voice was hoarse, still a little tinged with sleep and Jennie nods at whatever suggestion she offers. Lisa pads into her living room, turning the light in the hallway on along the way. Most of it streams into her bedroom and Jennie finds herself entranced with the way it was casting both light and shadows on Lisa’s bedroom floor.
She peeks in at an amused Jennie, “You won’t melt right?” giving her a teasing smile.
Jennie shakes her head in response, returning the smile. It’s a couple of seconds after that Lisa comes back.
“Would you like a cup of hot choco?” Her question is whispered even though there’s quite some distance between them,
Lisa gives her a shrug, getting back into bed. She looks back at Jennie and looks somewhere between amused and bored. She finally decides to break away from her gaze and wrap the blankets around her. Jennie doesn’t really know what to do. Apart from the fact she’s clueless unless it’s a soul that needs to be taken away, she’s also not sure if Lisa wants her company tonight. So she ends up standing there, very much content at being allowed to just look at her at the moment.
Lisa doesn’t meet her gaze, patting the space beside her on the bed instead. It takes three beats before Jennie even acknowledges the invitation and settles beside Lisa on the bed. She leaves a considerable amount of distance between them, afraid that she’ll end up making Lisa feel cold again.
The same comfortable silence that always seemed to linger between them starts to settle and all Jennie could hear is Lisa’s steady breathing and the even thump-thump of her heartbeat. It’s in the pauses in between that Lisa comes cuddling closer, her breath warming Jennie’s skin. Lisa finds herself nestled into Jennie’s neck where the coldness of her skin was tickling the tips of her nose.
Jennie barely heard her the first time she asked. She was hearing all sorts of thoughts from the human medic and can barely focus on one thought so she hums her question and it makes Lisa bury her face deeper into her neck before whispering a shaky; “Have I gone crazy?”
Jennie didn’t have the heart to answer and so she hums the lullaby instead, hoping it comforts her and takes away any doubts that may have wormed their way inside the tall medic’s mind. Instead she hears glimpses of Lisa’s thoughts and how Lisa’s wondering why little distance is still too much distance between them, how she wants to have no distance at all, and how she wants to feel how Jennie feels to the touch.
The thoughts all come to her at once and she feels a little uncomfortable. The thought of it all a little absurd even to death herself and so she whispers back a soft “Let’s go have that hot choco.”
It doesn’t completely shut off Lisa’s thoughts but it’s enough to dull them down that they’re no longer screaming at Jennie. She’s gingerly led towards the living room where Lisa tells her to sit and make herself feel comfortable while she goes and makes hot choco.
Jennie nods, and sits on the floor instead. Back against the sofa while she watches Lisa’s retreating figure disappear into her kitchen.
Lisa comes back with two steaming mugs of hot choco and she almost laughs at the sight of death being pounced on playfully by her four babies. Jennie looked like she’s enjoying the attention from the four cats while she makes sure she gives equal attention and rubs. Jennie swoons while they purr and rub against her knees, the oldest among the four opting to nibble on her finger playfully.
“What did you do to my cats?” Lisa can’t hide the growing smile on her face as she walks closer.
Jennie looks up, a little startled at the sound before being totally confused. She had a brief pout on her face before Leo went to give her nose a quick paw boop.
“Did you bewitch them or something?”
“No, they just like me.”
“They can’t stand any people at al-- Oh.”
Jennie chuckles as realization made Lisa look away briefly, clearing her throat before she plopped down beside her. Handing her, her own mug of steaming hot choco.
“So… you came to visit?”
There’s awkwardness written all over and yet Jennie doesn’t mind. She’d seen far worse than that every single day.
“Why do I feel like I’m actually dying and you’re just not telling me and treating me like a stage 4 cancer patient instead?”
Jennie’s chuckle fills the room, she takes her gaze away from Lisa and plays with Louis who’s busy pawing off a stray string off the carpet. “I’m not that kind..” She takes a peek at Lisa through the corner of her eyes and looks away the moment she feels the gaze of the medic on her.
“It’s ridiculous how you’re not afraid of me at all.”
“Minus the incident in my bedroom.” Lisa grins.
“That doesn’t count.”
“Guess it doesn’t.”
“Do you not have a speckle of fear for me?”
“No, why would I?” Lisa takes a casual sip off of the hot choco and hums an appreciative nod.
“I don’t know, I’m ‘Death’ and all..” Jennie points out, clearly a little too confused at the way things are going.
“I don’t care what your job is.”
“I take them to the hospital and you take them farther away. Not much difference anyway.”
“So you’re not confused about this..” Jennie places the mug of hot choco on the floor, away from Lisa’s cats. Drawing out the question.
She wants to push buttons and ask about what exactly, but doesn’t.
“Not about your occupation, no. There’s so much more to be confused about.”
“Like, how old are you.”
There’s a split second delay before Jennie’s howling out a loud laughter, almost scaring Lily away.
“That’s the first thing about me that you’re curious about?”
“Yea, I’d like to know. You going around kissing young girls without telling your age…”
“You’re amusing.” Her lips involuntarily do the smiling and Jennie thinks it’s become quite another one of her habits.
“I also kinda had a different image of Death in mind, we all sorta do around here… you don’t look like an ancient wise man with a skull for a face, in a dark hood with a scythe on his shoulder… You also don’t make boogie-woogie sounds, and gee, you’re not scary at all, I mean, have you seen yourself playing with kittens and all? Dork… I actually think the only thing that’s worked itself out of the myths is the cold--” her loud thoughts are startling even for herself when out and about, and so she stops herself and side gazes at Jennie apologetically.
“Erm, sorry about that.”
“No don’t be,” she tumbles closer and snakes her arms around Jennie’s, “It’s actually kind of cool and novel. Also keeps the skin fresh, fyi, that’s why you’re such a beauty queen I guess. Partly why. We should watch Frozen sometime. Also, question number 2 of importance would be: do you sleep? It’s kind of late already-- Do you eat? What’s your favorite thing to have except apples? What do you do when you’re tired, or do you not get tired? What do you feel when you’re next to a dying body? Or do you not… Where do you live? You could move in with me if you have nowhere else to stay around here, and my cats love you more than me already and you haven’t even tried to make them like you, and so it should be a no brai--”
Lisa’s a bit taken aback, but in a good way. Jennie catches her mid ramble, her hand on the sofa supporting her and the other buried in Lisa's hair. Her kisses feel gentle and incredibly soft and it floods Lisa’s brain with feel good hormones that she’s unaware of the subtle bite she’s doing on Jennie’s bottom lip.
Jennie pulls away a bit, changing the direction of the kiss. She smiles into it and it draws a breath from Lisa that makes her chuckle. She leans into her, gently. Placing her arm between Lisa's back and the sofa, cradling her in a way that ensures she’s comfortable. A sweet sounding hum leaks out and Lisa feels a sense of urgency building up, so she pushes into the kiss, opening Jennie’s mouth with her tongue.
Lisa pulls away first, her finger tracing Jennie’s bottom lip. Jennie finds the motion a little too hypnotizing, back and forth.
“Where’d you learn to kiss so well.” Lisa breaks almost into a smirk that ends up looking more goofy, and it’s more than enough to draw Jennie back to planting small pecks on her cheeks, down the trail of her chin and back to Lisa’s lips where she kisses her longer. Lisa drapes one arm over Jennie's shoulder, pulling her closer even if there’s no more space between them. Jennie finds the action a little too endearing and ends up digging her fingers softly into Lisa’s back. The feel of fabric on her skin is rough and it takes her a second to realize that Lisa’s hand was pressed on the skin of her stomach. She doesn’t register the warmth at first and for a brief moment is almost shy at how cold it must have felt on Lisa’s own skin.
She forgets about the thoughts and doubts when Lisa lets go of her neck and turns to cup her cheek, Jennie leans into the touch and kisses the skin on Lisa’s palm. Lisa’s looking at her with a gentleness she can't quite place and there’s a flush on her cheeks that makes Jennie gasp a little. It feels new and nice and all sorts of wonderful that she holds onto Lisa’s hand with her own and threads their fingers together, before pulling it away gently so she could lean into another kiss that leaves them both breathless.
“You haven’t answered any of my questions yet.”
“I’m answering them right now.” Jennie’s smiling, bringing the highlight to her cheeks, “all at once.”
Lisa laughs a little before pulling their entwined hands close to her lips and kissing Jennie’s knuckles, staying on the skin a bit before she smiles. She pulls Jennie closer and their noses bump into each other. The next kiss is urgent, and a little messy. They go for the same angle and Lisa’s lips fall on the corners of Jennie’s lips before she finds the rhythm that brings them both back on track. It feels a little needy and selfish, wanting to get a taste of each other before it slows down to something that’s light. Lisa’s squeezing Jennie’s hand, while she asks for more and Jennie concedes.
Jennie doesn’t pull away altogether; she lingers just a breath away, kissing Lisa once, twice, thrice. Small kisses that make Lisa’s smile grow, then she kisses her again for the fourth time and the fifth, losing count the moment they’ve resigned to look each other in the eyes. Lisa had a sleepy look on her face and a lazy smile that made Jennie smile in return, stealing another kiss but this time planting it on Lisa’s forehead. Jennie has a skewed up notion of time and she realizes they’ve been staring into each other’s eyes and smiling at each other for what might have been quite a while, she really doesn’t realize until she sees Lisa fighting off a yawn.
“Why do you even find me interesting..”
“It’s utterly sad and absolutely fascinating how hard you try. How compassionate you are.”
“I could say the same for you…”
“I don’t even do anything. I just wait and take.”
“I guess that’s exactly what you did with my heart then.”
Lisa’s falling asleep.
“I’m sorry I lashed out at you earlier.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything.”
Lisa mumbles something incoherent in response and Jennie finds her falling asleep right there and then on the floor, head lazily on the edge of the sofa. She takes the mug away from beside Lisa and carefully drapes a blanket over her, making sure she’s not in any way cold.
She will stay the night to make sure Lisa sleeps through it safe and sound. She won’t be there in the morning when Lisa wakes up.
The morning is still and quiet like the night before. Lisa is huddled around Jennie’s shoulder, her head resting back on the pit of Jennie’s elbow, completely spaced out although nestled tightly in a blanket like they wrap newborns in a duvet. Jennie is what seems to be asleep, her arm over Lisa, her body though quite away from her; blame it on body heat. She opens her eyes almost simultaneously with Lisa.
“I could trade my nose that you don’t sleep.” She slowly comes back to her senses feeling sweaty and backache-y. “And I could trade the whole myself you wouldn’t be here when I’d wake up.”
“I changed my mind.”
The thing about working in high stress situations is that you tend to develop this weird little quirk, of not knowing what day it is, or how much time has passed. It’s all a blur. Time and day losing their own boundaries and everything just seems to mesh.
It’s that for Lisa and she can’t really tell when this new little habit started, only that she started noticing when some nights would turn out to be colder (even with the heater set to high).
She also finds herself developing something new on her own. She won’t readily admit to it but she’s sure Jennie has an idea. You can’t really hide much from someone who has access to your thoughts now, can you? It’s when it’s deep in the night that she’ll find herself watching Jennie’s breaths slow into an even rhythm, and her eyelashes would flutter every now and then. It’s there that she finds out death can be quite the light sleeper.
Death sleeps, crazy isn’t it?
Lisa feels a small smile growing, the endearing part of it all is death’s weird sleeping habits.
Most of the time, with the majority of people you won’t get any reaction at all. For some light sleepers, you’d either wake them up entirely which sucks or have them groan at the interruption. Death? She reacts, then wakes up the next morning – no recollection of it, whatsoever.
“Hmmm?” Jennie’s brows furrow and she takes one sleepy peek at Lisa who’s huddled close to her, looking back with a huge smile on her face.
“I love you.” Lisa whispers.
She gives the same warm smile she carries when Lisa’s around and whispers back a small “I love you too. Now go to sleep, human.”
Lisa scrunches her nose in response, finding it adorable how fast Jennie falls back to sleep, her breathing light. She nudges closer, bumping her shoulder against Jennie’s in the process. Lisa thinks it’s automatic by now. A learned impulse. Jennie scoots closer to kiss her on the forehead. It’s light and mindless and yet it stays. If that makes sense at all, it’s still there lingering on her skin as she watches Jennie pull back, already asleep.
Time completely slows down and Lisa takes in everything around her, something that rarely ever happens in her life. She watches Jennie’s chest rise and fall counting out the seconds in between. There’s a certain peace that settles in her chest whenever she does this. Just watching her sleep most nights when she’s here.
“I can’t remember the last time I did this with someone.” Lisa whispers, hoping it doesn’t wake her up. This was something she’d rather keep to herself. The confession.
“Can I hug you?”
It shouldn’t be a surprise to her. Lisa thinks she’d hear it anyways even if she kept it unsaid.
“Why are you asking again?” She scoots closer and Jennie’s hands gently wrap around her, pulling her into an embrace that leaves little room between them. Lisa’s breath warms Jennie’s neck where she smiles against the skin.
Jennie’s voice was a little hoarse, “I’m cold.”
“Irrelevant at this point.” She tangles her legs with Jennie’s, amused at the thought of making death her human pillow. “This feels nice.” Lisa breathes. “You always feel nice.”
Jennie chuckles, and it causes slight little shakes that make Lisa laugh in turn.
“You’re an amusing human.”
She catches the slight tease in her voice and finds her own breathing slowing down. Jennie runs her fingers through Lisa’s hair, up and down, melting away any remaining tension from her stressful shift. “Hmmm” is all she says at this point. Jennie knows what goes beyond the soft little hum anyways.
It takes a minute before Lisa realizes Jennie has gone back to sleep and it takes a couple of sighs before she feels Jennie pull away, her brows furrowed and with a small pout. “Can’t sleep?”
Lisa doesn’t really want to answer her.
“Is it because of the cold?”
Lisa won’t readily admit, but she finds a sleepy Jennie adorable. “I'm just too tired.”
Confusion on death’s face was becoming something Lisa loves seeing.
“Shouldn’t that make you fall asleep faster?” She’s whispering now, and the genuine look of worry on her face despite one eye closed and the other barely open makes Lisa reach out to kiss her on the lips. Something to tide over the want to pull her and kiss her hard instead.
“I can’t really sleep when I’m very tired, it sucks.” She answers with a grin.
“Stop smiling, you need to rest.” her eyes are closed now, her brows still furrowed, “I’ll sing you to sleep.”
She’s pulled back into another hug that starts off with Jennie kissing her on the cheeks before she plants a small chaste one on her lips, smiling. She buries herself deep into the comforts of Jennie’s neck where she breathes in the scent of apples and warm cups of tea. “Is this one of your Finnish lullabies again?”
“I’ll make something up along the way... “ she kneads small circles on the small of Lisa’s back, her palms cool against the fabric of her pajamas. Jennie starts humming a calming little tune and Lisa feels warmth bloom inside her.
“You won’t remember this in the morning.” the words tumble out without much thought, “and it’s honestly nice. I feel special and safe.”
“You’re in bed with death– I think that in itself is special already.” Lisa laughs at the cockiness in her tone, and nods.
“Yeah, that too. Goodnight Jen.”
Lisa feels her nod, not wanting to stop with the humming. She hears a soft goodnight before completely dozing off to sleep.