guess who's getting a medical drama now
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Oh good! Marian is pretty sure he needed that (and that he's probably consistently underestimating how much rest he needs). She still doesn't want to go too far, but once he's seemed comfortable for a few minutes and she's as caught up on charting as she can possibly get, she'll putter around helping Elise with tasks that don't require leaving the pod. 

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And a social worker arrives at 9:05 am! She's wearing a nice blouse and slacks and a hospital badge that says Candace with the last name blacked out, and carrying one of those binder-clipboards with space for papers inside. 

"Hi, I'm looking for the nurse for," she checks the clipboard, "Eighty-Six, Orange? - do we have an ID on him yet, he's been here over 24 hours, no?" 

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Marian winces slightly, even though she doesn't think the social worker is blaming her for that oversight. "...No ID, uh, he doesn't speak English and his language has a different alphabet, and he can't actually talk right now to tell us his name or anything." 

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Sigh. "I suppose there's not much point arranging an interpreter when he's still on the vent, but we should be thinking about it. What language?" 

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"- I'm really not sure, sorry - he tried writing to communicate and I didn't recognize it and we just drew pictures." 

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Another short sigh. "I'll see what I can do. We're not going to get very far if we can't talk to the guy, and it's not fair to him either.” Pause. “I did read your note, by the way, and I’ve already been in touch with the police.”

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Oh shit is that going to complicate things. “…And?” 

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Shrug. “It’s a weird case and we’re missing a lot of facts. I do know they requisitioned security footage from the Walmart and didn’t see him come in - there’s consideration whether the staff might have tampered with the footage, but there’s no obvious motive, and all it could just mean he entered before three am, apparently they only store three hours at a time of full video and further back it’s stills every thirty seconds, which could have missed a breakin.” 

Pause. “Your note didn’t really say anything about how he thinks he ended up there.”

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Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. Shit. What can she say that sounds maximally boring and unsuspicious?

“I’m - not sure if he knows? He seems mostly with it today but he was definitely seeming confused about some things yesterday.”

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“Yeah.” She makes a face. “And of course we only have his word on any of it - not even that, it sounds like, just his doodles - and you couldn’t even ask the question in a language he understood, right?”

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Marian is in fact pretty sure her patient isn’t confused (except as a result of having accidentally portaled himself to America from a third world country) and understood the question, but it’s - maybe helpful for the social worker to be less sure of that. “Yeah. Communicating at all was a headache, I’d been hoping for something more obviously identifying?”

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“Mm.” The social worker glances down at her clipboard. “Well, show me what you did get so I can put it in his file, and I’d better meet the guy at least for a moment.”

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Marian would like this interaction to be OVER but she pastes a smile on her face anyway. “Of course.” If she sounds insincere, hopefully it’ll just seem like she’s busy and wants to get back to her regular tasks. “Let’s go in and see him.”

She slightly wishes she had thought to come up with an excuse to go check on him before having the conversation with the social worker, so that she wouldn’t be throwing this at him while he’s just woken up. Not that he has to do anything complicated in this interaction, but - it still must be stressful.

 

She goes in and clears her throat loudly before nudging his shoulder. 

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Marian sounds-- different than usual-- oh. 

The good thing about Empathy is that he can tell there are two people in the room, one of them a stranger, before he opens his eyes.  He smiles at Marian a little, then looks questioning and a little worried at the other woman.  Well, he would anyway, in a place as confusing as this, and even just not knowing the language is reason enough.

He can look confused - not even more than he really is, he is plenty confused about most things here, just not all of them on the same level - and a little more tired than he could be, which is not difficult to lean into.

 

He wonders who the woman thinks he thinks she is.  How does she feel about all this?  He should be careful not to react, if he senses anything surprising from her, but he thinks it's still worth doing.

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She’s thinking that this is certainly one of the weirder cases she's dealt with this year, though the simplest explanation here is that he’s off his meds or something and having delusions about elaborate crime ring kidnappings, but of course they need to investigate anyway. (If it does turn out to be that, and the only crime committed was breaking into a store to hide from his imaginary enemies, she hopes the police won't decide to prosecute that.) ...She supposes he could also just be lying, but it would be a bizarre lie, especially when he could easily just not have said (drawn, rather) anything yet.

She's looking at him with an assessing eye, though she's not assessing the same things Marian does. He looks reasonably well-nourished and - not exactly well-groomed, but she wouldn't have pegged him as homeless. He's less jumpy than she had expected given the extensive note about his PTSD symptoms, but clearly the nurse has had time to build some rapport, good for her. There's not that much she can assess about whether his reactions are appropriate, but his eyes are focusing on hr, an 'smiling at the person he knows and has had time to get comfortable with, looking slightly anxious about the stranger' makes sense. 

The language barrier is awkward. She would suggest a referral to psych - either he's having delusions or he's understandably upset and traumatized about what he experienced, both would justify having him assessed - but getting an interpreter service in has to come first, and she's worried that's going to be a hassl. 

 

(Her affect is curious and somewhat suspicious, but without any of the ground-shifting-under-her confusion that Marian felt when she learned about magic.) 

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(Marian is feeling stressed in a social-anxiety way - trying to hide stuff from a colleague is super awkward - but she's not very worried about the way the conversation has gone so far.) 

She smiles reassuringly at him, and then - somewhat more for the social worker's benefit, she doesn't think he's confused - makes a show of pulling out the timeline-drawing for today and pointing at Lisa's earlier drawing of the figure by the bed with clipboard and speech bubble. 

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The social worker looks mildly impressed; the nurses are clearly going above and beyond here. She smiles too, and points at herself. "Candace." 

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He returns the smile, nods.  Points at the tube apologetically, not that she could've possibly not noticed, but it's still the natural gesture when he wishes he could say something but can't.

 

He's... not sure what he should be aiming for, here, he realizes.  It doesn't seem like she's here to ask complicated questions about what happened, but... she's assessing him for something... and he remembers that Marian couldn't tell him what would happen to him after he was out of here.  Perhaps this woman knows.  Should he ask her, or act too tired and confused to have coherent questions like that?  It would give them more time to think about how to deal with... whatever this is... but whatever this is may not wait for them, and he gets the impression she just... wants to know if he's a sane and reasonable person.  Yes seems likely to be the better answer to that, and a sane and reasonable person would want to know what's going to happen to him.

But he should wait and see if she wants anything, first.  He looks at her questioningly, his face calm and his unrestrained hands making no sudden gestures.

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...She's still mostly planning to talk to Marian. It's just much lower-friction that way, and also fairer to the patient - in addition to the language barrier and the fact that he's intubated, he's also on a lot of pain meds and recovering from severe injuries and major surgery. She mostly wants the guy to have any idea who she is when she shows up in a couple of days with (hopefully) an interpreter and a lot of questions. 

"Can I see the writing sample you have? Seems like our best bet for identifying his language." 

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Yeah, Marian can go find that. The pictures that the social worker definitely shouldn't see are now properly concealed in a drawer under the spare gowns, but she did also make some attempt to sort out the ones that are relevant to what he communicated to them, as opposed to her and Lisa trying to tell him things about his care.

 

(...Is this going to be suspicious? Ugh, maybe - assuming they identify the language, it might raise questions about how he got here and whether he's an illegal immigrant - would they try to contact his home country? She's not sure, but - surely his horrible religion institution can't come after him in America, and he would qualify for asylum, if it came to that...

And it would be good if they had an interpreter for him. Uh, assuming that there are native speakers of his language in the US who aren't the horrible religion - or maybe that doesn't matter, he shouldn't say anything about his powers through that route anyway, it would just be nice if she could explain things more clearly.) 

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The social worker makes a face at it. "- Well, I don't recognize this either. I'll have to bring this to my manager. ...While I'm here, if he's up for writing, we might as well get him to write his name for us? And then if we do get translation, we'll have it." 

She brings the clipboard over. Points at herself again. "Candace." At Marian: "Marian." Then points at him, points at the writing, and offers him the clipboard and pen again? 

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He's... not sure what for... but sure, he can write his name in the alphabet nobody in this world is going to be able to read.

Marian is worried-hopeful-worried... Oh, she doesn't know how far away they're from, that's right.  Karal does not at this point at all expect these people to be able to get anything useful out of his writing.  (The possibility that they have a list of all the world's languages thorough enough that they'll be sure this isn't one of them doesn't occur to him - nobody knows that much about everything, and Marian didn't act like the people here did either.)

 

And while the woman (her name is Candace, she expects to see him again, so he should remember it) is here, he can try to ask his question.  (Maybe he shouldn't, but... she's thinking of him as... he doesn't even know what - not really a criminal, but someone not in control of his own life for some other confusing reason?  He doesn't like it.  And it'll be informative, to find out how she'll react to being asked.)

He finds the page where he and Marian were drawing the past and the future, and points to the present and future drawings in turn: a figure lying down in bed, then sitting up, then standing, then - what?  He's not sure if she'll understand the question, but Marian can explain it for him, and get much more of an answer than he will.

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Marian feels like this should be pretty clear, but Candace is looking to her for an interpretation anyway, which is maybe just reasonable since she knows the patient. 

"He's been wanting to know more about the post-discharge plans since yesterday, yeah. I, uh - I guess at the time I was worried he was, like, actively suicidal, so I - wasn’t sure what to say - but I really don’t think he is, at this point.”

Marian isn’t sure if that was helpful to say, but she’s mostly trying to pretend to be herself from yesterday evening, before she knew about the superpowers, and yesterday’s Marian wouldn’t have been cagey. 

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"Yeah, no, that doesn't seem like what's going on." Candace glances back over at the patient. "Though I'm also not sure what to tell him. Even leaving aside all the ways this is complicated, I don't think we can do any discharge planning until we can talk to the guy."

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