guess who's getting a medical drama now
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Okay. Calm. Focus.

 

He’s - saying she can’t hide her reaction from him, oof. She needs to get her shit together and have a better reaction already.

…He’s saying that he - has psychic powers for feelings but not words? Huh. That does actually reduce the embarrassment factor quite a lot. (She should probably try to cut down on the embarrassment even if it’s all internal, that must just get tedious for someone with psychic powers…)

- he’s also saying he can do it both ways, which, uh, does make more sense than “he has superhuman eyebrow game”. Or, no, it absolutely doesn’t make sense, but whatever.

(She has no expectation or desire that he stop. In hindsight her drawings weren’t nearly good enough for how well he understood them, and - if that’s because he was cheating, well, she’d prefer he keep doing that, the communication barrier is one of the biggest hurdles to treating him.)

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She shouldn't feel bad about her emotions at all, she is very good and he appreciates her and all her helpful sensible reactions so much.

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And he really needs to figure out how to ask exactly why all this was such a shock...

 

Well, the first guess is obvious.  He finds another sheet of paper (they're going to need more of them again soon...), draws this building and some other buildings, a Karal-figure doing a wavy line, a lot of other small figures none of which are doing anything like that.  On the second half of the page, another nearly-identical sketch, but this time a few of the other figures are also making wavy lines.  He points between one drawing and the other - which one?

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Wait is he asking her whether anyone else has superpowers? What. Marian is the one who literally only found out now that she maybe lives in the X-Men universe, surely he would know much better than she does! 

...Maybe not? Maybe he's only recently started having psionic powers - wow that would be so lonely and confusing...

 

Hmm. She - can add a Marian figure with a ponytail to the second drawing, and then draw a big X across it and shake her head - she does know for sure that no one else has psionic powers that she knows about. But she'll flip to another sheet and quickly draw a different sketch, where none of the people in the building the Marian-figure is in have wavy lines except for the one in a bed representing her patient, but some of the people in littler house-buildings (where Marian can't see them) do? She's not how to additionally convey "in secret" - she'll draw a pair of eyes and another X in front of them. 

She gestures to her new picture and to her patient's first picture, and shrugs. She points at the first one - that seems more likely, that was what she thought was the case - but, uh, she's just learned that one person has powers, that seems like at least evidence that other people do in secret? 

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(Of course, this is all incredibly implausible and possibly Marian should be worrying more about whether she's hallucinating. She's - going to worry about that later, though. It feels like 'wondering if you're hallucinating' is a wildly un-empathetic response to a patient trusting you with their secrets.) 

 

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She... doesn't know?  And seems confused about it, why would she be so confused about how her own world works--

 

--Oh.  He still hasn't explained where he's from, and if she thinks he's from here then of course she's doubting everything she knew about how the world works.  (She may still be right to doubt it, it's just that she jumped to it so fast it felt off...) 

He gives her an apologetic look for the fact that things are about to get even more confusing.  He's quite sure she isn't hallucinating, but it's not as if he can be reassuring about that...

 

Another piece of paper - oh, that's their last one - hmm, what can he draw that'll make it obviously a different world...  (Or at least a very different place, they're still not sure about exactly where they are, maybe Marian will be able to tell for sure...)  The Sun-temple again with an obvious priest-mage in front of it, a battlefield with many people with swords and some with far-reaching wavy lines - if that was going on anywhere in this world, surely she'd know about it? 

On the same page he adds a castle with a room with a Karal-figure in bed - goes through their previous drawings to find the ones he needs, oh no they have so many - points to his new drawing and to his original more detailed story of getting attacked, adds the Karal-figure making wavy lines and a wavy Gate in the floor (he probably shouldn't go into explaining Leareth at this point, that really would be too much confusion and might not be a good idea in any case), an arrow for falling through the Gate... Then points to her first drawing, of him bleeding on the floor in that other place they were in first.  Draws a faint Gate there, an arrow through it down to where she drew him. 

He really hopes all that made half as much sense as it did in his head.  Poor Marian, there's so much confusing strangeness going on here and he wishes he didn't have to make her deal with all of it!  ... Not that his life has been free of confusing strangeness lately, but... he had always known he didn't understand everything about the world and that many deeply strange things happened in it, and her confusion feels like it's on a deeper level than that, like she did think she understood how the world worked and is now finding out that she didn't...  It sounds very hard, and he's sorry, and cannot even promise that it will make anything better rather than worse.

 

--Also, the possibilities here are getting complicated enough that Leareth should probably start paying full attention.  He pushes a summary first, to avoid distressing him to the extent that he can - Marian's still being kind and trustworthy and also very confused, it really does look like they might just not have magic here, does Leareth think it's possible for a world to be like that when magic clearly works in it?

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Leareth drags himself back to alertness. 

 

- it doesn't seem impossible to have a world where no one has Gifts, even though magic would work in theory if anyone had the ability to wield it? Which does push the question further along to "why does no one have Gifts" but Leareth can think of theories - maybe if there were less ambient mage-energy, such that mage-gift would be much less useful... 

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Marian is trying very hard to drag her brain into focusing on the paper instead of boggling and/or trying to check if she's dreaming. 

 

She remembers the mosque-looking building and the weird sunburst symbol, from when her patient was oddly curious about her and/or the hospital's religion. There's...some kind of dispute about the church in his home country, or whatever it is? People with big knives? The church in his home country is - having a fight with some other religious sect, maybe, that would explain him caring so much about the religion of the place he ended up...

She spends a minute trying to figure out if the wavy thing on the floor is a weird-shaped pillow or some other object, before putting together what he means with the arrow - he's saying he can do portals too??? That does kind of make sense of him being found in a random Walmart, actually, if he was trying to flee some kind of religious sectarian violence - was he in trouble because of his powers, there, that would kind of make sense of why he seemed conflicted about telling her - poor guy, she's so glad he got out (kind of) safely... 

She nods along. She's not sure she understood everything but she thinks she's following most of it? 

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She did understand a... lot of things he hadn't been particularly trying to communicate... but the shape of her reactions feels true, that the new magic (entirely entangled with Leareth in his mind) is why the Sunpriests are hunting him and why he couldn't stay home (a burst of sadness - he misses it so much), and it's such a relief that she doesn't hate him for it...

He hadn't been trying to tell that story - it seemed too complicated, maybe just too painful, less immediate than the current practicalities...  But it's what she saw anyway, and - she's right, that it matters more, makes him feel safer to have out in the open, than what he'd been trying to tell her.  (And - she saw it because she cares more about what happened to him than about how the world works.  That's the kind of person she is.)

He lets go of the paper to reach for her hand, if she'll let him.  He's having too many emotions to deliberately send the lack of intention to do anything startling, but he's projecting enough of what he's feeling, relief-trust-safety-sadness, that what he means may be clear enough.

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He looks so sad and - of course it must be devastated to have needed to flee his home - Marian will absolutely take his hand and squeeze it reassuringly and try to - probably she doesn't even need to try on purpose, if he can feel what she's feeling, but she wants him to know that he's safe here and he's going to be okay. 

(She...is not going to tell anyone that her patient has psionic and portal-making powers, she decides. One possibility is that her colleagues decide she's insane, and another is that they believe her and he gets asked a lot of questions and possibly the government takes him into custody to experiment on him. It doesn't feel like any of the possible outcomes there are good.) 

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Leareth is pretty sure she didn't follow the part about him being from another world, and is assuming - something else, probably Karal is right that it's not the priority for her. It might be good to communicate at some point, though - he tries to push across the concept of planets, a vague mental image of how he would draw one - it seems very likely that given how advanced their artifacts are, they know that they live on a planet, and Karal could convey what he means by drawing two planets and one end of the Gate on each. 

...later, he'll back off and let Karal have emotions. 

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Then Karal will have emotions for a little while.  Leareth is of course right, that they should tell her more, but...  It's worth it, for now, to let himself take the time to feel safe, to feel like they truly aren't alone here.  And to let Marian have time to come to some balance with all of this.

 

It doesn't surprise him, when the balance she comes to is that she will keep their secret even now that she knows how extraordinary it is.  He squeezes her hand for another long moment with a grateful look, the sadness slowly fading into the background less important than the fact that here and now he has someone he can trust, and believes her that they will be all right.  Finally he presses her fingers against his cheek - he's distracted enough to only realize at the last moment that the frustrating tube is in the way of the gesture he meant - and lets go.

 

 

(It's not unworrying, of course, that she thinks telling anyone would go badly.  He can tell she's uncertain about both individual people's reactions and the government's.  But he trusts Leareth to find a way to either deal with this government or evade it - it seems like Leareth's sort of skill - and if Marian thinks they're safe, they should have plenty of time for Karal to learn how to disentangle the compulsion, or just to wait for it to disappear on its own if he cannot, so that Leareth can act.)

 

Well.  Karal has more questions, and more he could tell her.  But now that she knows the core of his situation, it seems better to see if she has questions or information, since she's the one who knows anything about what things are like here and what's likely to be important.  He will wait and let her think.

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Now is not a good time to be having all the feelings she's going to have later about the fact that superpowers apparently exist! Marian is at work! She can reckon with how this changes everything she thought she understood about reality later

 

What does it mean about what her patient needs, here and now? 

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Well, he just told her one of the ways it matters, which is that apparently using his psionic powers drains his blood sugar and electrolytes. She's really glad to know that! It was super stressful not knowing what was causing his inexplicable drops and whether it was part of a syndrome with other effects they weren't thinking to measure. 

(...Ugh, it's actually now non-obvious to her that it isn't? Presumably it's not an issue if he's eating food - if he had to do something special to recover he would know - hmm it does still seems worth trying to ask if he knows anything about his superpower-related nutritional needs– ugh he maybe wouldn't know, if having powers is banned by his religion and he only started having them recently...?) 

Focus. What does she need to do

She should nag them at rounds about starting feeds, which isn't a bad idea anyway, now that he's starting to recover from shock. She should maybe try to think of ways to suggest they test him for nutritional deficiencies - he doesn't look malnourished in general, but maybe if she suggests he might be from a developing country... 

- oh right social work consult, ugh. She definitely needs a strategy for that, it's going to be soon and she abruptly doesn't want them to be curious about her patient's history - 

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...Also, right, she should probably check his blood sugar again, it was already marginal last time and he did some superpowers demonstration. 

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69 mg/dL. 

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Barely low - his D10 infusion might keep pace fine without the active demonstration - but she doesn't want to leave him with no wiggle room. She'll give him some D50. And then also get the graph again and add a couple of dots on it to show the recent drop and explain what she's doing. 

- she'll recheck the labs, too, to see if the potassium she sent almost an hour ago is back yet. 

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Yup! 3.9 mmol/L. 

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Oh good! She'll add a dot on that graph too, to show that he's gone down a little but is still comfortably in the happy normal range. 

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He's fairly sure having Gifts doesn't normally require anything strange?  ...He's only had them for a couple of days, but Leareth would know of any important requirements and surely he would've said something before now.  He'll draw a figure eating and making wavy lines and a smiling face, and... how to draw it... if he just points at the things-in-tubes graph and projects trust-and-communication, will that do to make her stop feeling worried about it?

(Well, he cannot truthfully tell her she shouldn't be worried at all, since he or Leareth might still do something inadvisable if they feel threatened - but it's increasingly unlikely now that they have her help, and he doesn't think Marian is the sort to entirely stop worrying.)

 

In any case, they've managed it well enough so far, so now that they know more it should really be fine.  He is definitely more uncertain about the upcoming conversation with the new person.  He points to that drawing on the timeline, and... confused/questioning look?  He really doesn't know enough to have the sort of concrete question he could draw - and he's not sure Marian has the sort of concrete answers she could draw, either.  He wants to know what she expects, and what she's planning on saying - or at least if she has a plan and how confident she feels about it - but he really needs words for that, and even if he could talk he only has maybe ten of them...  He didn't think of how much more frustrating the lack of ability to communicate would get now that he's decided to tell Marian nearly everything.

... Ah, there's a way to get part of an answer, at least.  He takes their heap of drawings and starts sorting them into two piles.  The last few with wavy lines go on a pile he tries with mixed success to hide under his pillow, the timeline and graphs go on a pile that can stay on the clipboard.  What about the rest?

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Yeah, ugh, Marian also wants to strategize with him about how to handle the social worker - or at least, like, tell him the story she's presenting so he's ready to play his part if necessary - but this is especially hard with basically no shared vocabulary. 

 

- also she did totally put in a long narrative note with what she had already learned about him yesterday, didn't she. Is that going to be a problem - she should tell him about it, at least, and go reread it to remind herself what she actually said in it - she'll haul the computer-on-wheels back over and pull it up, and go through the remaining pictures to figure out which ones she mentioned in her note. 

Okay, it looks like she (briefly) mentioned the map she assumes is his home country but didn't go into detail on the whole religion sidetrack. She did mention the confusing Spider-Man drawing which in hindsight is obviously depicting him using his powers.

(And - having powers used on him - the attacking figures also have wavy lines coming from them - she doesn't think the social worker will interpret it that way, Marian didn't, so that part isn't a problem but she is noting a bit of confusion about exactly how banned the powers are by his religion - maybe it's only allowed for the people in charge? Which would be super hypocritical but, like, that's not implausible.) 

She did also describe the drawing he did to explain why he stabbed himself - that he thought his alternatives were either a destructive fight or being kidnapped and held captive. That...seems fine...it's definitely going to be confusing and she feels a bit bad about the police maybe wasting their time investigating a crime that didn't happen in Reno at all, but it would probably be more suspicious at this point to hide the drawing. 

The rest of her note mostly goes into her theory of how this affected him, and especially the PTSD about being restrained. That all seems pretty reasonable for the social worker to know about? 

 

She's not actually sure the social worker will ask to see any of the drawings, as opposed to asking Marian for a summary, in which case it's probably best to leave it at what she knew yesterday? She can imply that he's been too out of it to communicate further, which isn't even implausible given the eventful night he had. 

(Does he seem to be following her reasoning, or does she need to communicate it more explicitly? She's not sure how much he's getting off her with his psychic power.) 

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If she does all this while visibly pointing to which pictures she's thinking about, he can mostly follow along.  He nods when she notices that the priests were also using Gifts and that it's maybe hypocritical for this to be how it works - it's much more complicated than that, but it's not really an incorrect conclusion, on the larger scale. 

He's a little uncertain about how much the new person will get from all this and how far they'll want to dig into all the many confusing aspects of it, but yes, if it's already in the artifact there's nothing to be done about it, he understands that.  And overall it seems like Marian is planning on just... telling them most of what she knew from him before this morning, maybe omitting some details, and letting the confusing and unlikely nature of the story lead them to disbelieve it or to put things off until they can communicate more, rather than on trying any more complicated deception.  Which is about how he meant to have that conversation on his own before he decided to explain everything to her, so it makes sense and should be easy for him to cooperate with.  And more than that, it means that his guesses about this society were good enough to make a workable plan, which bodes well for any further guessing he'll have to do with similarly little information.

He nods, projects understanding and cooperation.  He thinks this should work, and it doesn't seem worth it to put in a lot more frustrating effort into conveying slightly more detailed plans to each other.

 

(If Leareth volunteers any input Karal will of course pay attention, but this doesn't seem worth tiring him out for - talking to people to accomplish vague social goals based on more instinct than information is more Karal's thing than his - so he doesn't ask.  It'll be much more important to have Leareth's participation later when they get to learning more about how this world works, and Karal thinks Leareth might enjoy it.)

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Leareth thinks that Karal and Marian are handling this basically reasonably. He might have volunteered less information than Karal did in the first place, but it's not obvious that would have been correct - it's incredibly valuable to have a local ally, and Marian's previous reactions to things Karal shared is how Karal came to believe they could trust her - and, in any case, it's not the world they're in now. 

He's deeply unsure to what extent the authority they're about to talk to will put effort toward investigating their story now rather than waiting. This world definitely has enormous resources to put toward Healing them, and it seems likely they would also have the resources to dig into how he ended up here, Leareth just isn't sure if they will. But it doesn't seem worth having Marian try to actively steer away from it, probably, when anything she does that isn't - reacting naturally to what she knew yesterday - risks raising more suspicion. 

...He trusts Karal and he's going to go back to drifting now. 

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Also it’s now past 8 am. Marian is going to check a blood sugar again to make sure it actually went up a comfortable amount (it did!) and then - probably her patient should try to get some rest while there’s an opportunity? Especially if using his powers is tiring. She mimes sleeping to him. 

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(Karal expects Marian will want to do some steering, just not by changing the information she conveys.  It should be very easy to explain everything she knows in a tone that makes it sound like her patient is probably just really confused and it's not worth paying too much attention to.  And... this place has a lot of resources it's willing to spend on unimportant-seeming things, but Karal gets the vague impression that they... mostly want to accomplish things that make sense to them, rather than chase ones that don't. 

... Unless of course it turns out that the people in authority here do know about Gifts and the information from Marian will make sense to someone.  But if that's the case, then just their sudden appearance would have triggered whatever precautions this place has for the possibility, and there's nothing to be done about it.  It seems very unlikely, given that they've been here this long without someone in on the secret coming in to take them away from all these innocent people.)

 

He keeps feeling like there are so many things to deal with and talk about that it's hard to even think about sleep, and this latest train of thought didn't help, but... Marian is probably right.  And once he actually tries to sleep, it doesn't take him long, although it is noticeably longer than the way he used to be out after ten seconds yesterday. 

They did spend a significant fraction of the night doing things that weren't sleep, so Karal will end up sleeping until someone wakes him.

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