Chapter III: Berliner
The wheezing eventually turned into constant low whimpers.
For the past week, my illness never seemed to take a rest. It was brutal, to say the least. Those expanding organs in my chest kept shooting piercing pains over every little suckle of air. Basically, I was on the verge of turning blue, from the lack of airflow.
A pitiful moan escaped my chapped lips.
"Poor kid-" Farlan laid a hand on my head. Had I not been already paralyzed with aching muscles, I would have flinched away. Every touch was intensified, as if I had taken a direct blow to my body.
It was like this, one moment I felt a surge of energy, then the next I was wiped out. The tea treatment had worked, however only for little segments. For the last few days my permanent residence became: Room 3 of the Trio Thugs. That's right, I figured out what they were.
"What do ya' suppose we do?" Isabel was kneeling next to the bed. Concern lingered in her voice. All I could manage was to stay conscience. The little slits in my eyes begged to differ. Farlan let out of a long sigh, which was uncharacteristic of him.
"Not much can be done without medicine. "
"We can't just let her suffer! She's practically dead. Look at her-she can't even breath properly!" Isabel's ranting was causing my own brain to rattle. Please, stop.
"I'm aware of that Isabel!" Farlan snapped. I could slightly see his figure jerking in her direction. The tension was growing thicker as the moments ticked by. Slowly, I shifted myself under the blankets. "I'm not God-I can't magically heal her!"
"I never said you, had to personally fix the problem! All I'm sayin' is we have to figure out a solution-"
The arguing seemed to last for an eternity. Back and forth the comments ricocheted in the room. My head spun, my lungs screamed, and my gut twisted with hunger. Swallowing, oh how it was impossible.
Unexpectedly, a door slammed followed by the noise of multiple shoes strutting across the floor. If I hadn't been in a daze, I might have sat up. However, all I could do was brew with that deadly fever and a ticklish sensation of nausea.
"Levi who-?" Farlan began to ask. Isabel jumped the gun and spouted the burning question.
"Who the heck is this, Levi-Bro? Better not be a spy of the Military Police or else-" The leader of the group simply, 'tch' as his initial response. That was never a good sign. Usually, that sound effect indicated you said something stupid.
"Don't be an idiot-" Levi started. Yeah, I was right. "He's nothing more than the local physician." I heard more boots walking across the squeaky floors.
"Is this the child?" A raspy voice questioned.
"Yeah, that's the brat."
I could hear Farlan and Levi whispering across the room. I didn't catch much, other than the deep irritation from Levi, and his grumpy complaints about my nightly coughing. How, quote, he was tired of the noise and so he took matters into his own hands. I felt a warm wrinkled touch near my face. I tensed horribly.
"Let's have a look shall we-?" The man sounded older, with exhaustion hindering in his vocal cords. The blankets were pulled from my grasp. I couldn't control the shivers pricking my skin. Eventually, I cracked my eyes open enough to get a glance at the individual. Just like his hands, his face was aged. He had tiny eyes and grey whisker-like eye brows. He didn't look like a doctor. At least, not like the one I had seen before when I was with dad.
This man was simply wearing casual dirty clothing. Not the typical white outfit I could recall.
The gentleman pulled out a wormy device with a silver circular object at the end. He placed two silver poles in his ears then approached me with the other end.
The cold plate rested on my chest. "Alright, lets hear those lungs. Take some deep breathes for me." I hesitated, before shaking my head. Breathing was agonizing for me. Not to mention, my coughing fits would plague me again. I thought about Levi, how the noise would irritate him.
I wouldn't do it.
They couldn't make me.
"Elke, just inhale-big breathes like when you have your afternoon tea. Remember-?" Farlan smiled warmly at me from over the doctor's shoulder. I sunk deeper into the mattress. Yes, I knew what they wanted. I painfully gulped. However, I also knew what Levi didn't want.
"Just through the mouth instead." Isabel chimed in. "Like this-" The energetic girl performed the obvious demonstration. She over exaggerated opening her mouth and the widening of her ribs, followed by letting out a boisterous exhale.
"Let's give it a go." The doctor let out a sigh. With all those observing eyes on me, I didn't have much of a choice. I did as I was told.
My lungs instantly shot off the sensation of the prodding of thousands of pins inside the tissues. The throbbing intensified, pressured soared around my chest, and I felt the fire burning inside of me to choke the pain.
Nothing could stop me once it started. The coughs were so repetitive; I couldn't even get a once of air for several minutes. I would pathetically attempt to clutch my airway, as if I could reach through and pull out the cobweb forming inside of there.
"Alight-that's good. Alright, easy their hun." The doctor moved the cold metal under my thin shirt. The hacking never dwindled. "Ok, let's sit her up before she coughs the rest of her organs out." Hands reached under my spine and effortlessly held my limp body. Even my eyes began to water.
"It-It hurts. Here-it hurts deep." I winched in-between shallow breaths. I just wanted to be numb. Feeling nothing would be a blessing.
"I know kiddo-we'll get ya feeling better soon." Farlan rubbed my back. My head was barely raised. I was near freezer temp by the time the doctor finished all his "mental chartings". I had a thermometer shoved under my tongue, a heart beat count, a list of questions thrown at me, and was pressured checked from my throat to my gut.
Conclusion- yes, everything hurt.
"She can lay back down-but keep her slightly elevated. I don't want anymore fluid draining deeper into her lungs." The older man mumbled his orders, which were luckily carried out.
"Well-?" I heard Levi's agitated tone arise from behind. He had been a shadow through the entire evaluation. I had almost forgotten he was there. The doctor started unpacking some items from a tethered bag he had brought in. Glass cracked against each other as his hand was fishing for the objects.
The man then let out a grunt, "This has to be, by far, the worst case of Pneumonia I have yet to have seen in all my years of practice." I heard another clank from his hands. "And I've been in the business for quite sometime, my friend." There was an awkward silence, aside from my congested breathing.
The doctor cleared his throat before continuing. "This child needed medical care weeks ago. Her lungs are so inflamed I'm surprised you didn't wake up to a dead daughter. You should have contacted me sooner-"
"She's not ours" Levi hissed. "She planted herself under our damn staircase and-"
"And-"Farlan interrupted, "She's our responsibility now. So, what's to be done?"
Isabel interjected as well, "Yea, what's the verdict?" Levi groaned.
"It's not a court case, idiot-"
The doctor let out another husky gruff to clear his vocal cords. "The diagnosis is, as I mentioned, Pneumonia. Most likely, viral, which means she contracted it from germs being spread. And if you are speaking the truth-" The man paused. "And she was truly out on the streets for many months, then her weakened immune system didn't stand a chance against the nightly chills."
"She can be cured, right? She's going to be ok, right?" Isabel pressed. I listened as quietly as I could.
"Well-" the doctor sounded bleak. "I'll be honest, the chances of her living through this, is as slim as they come. I've seen healthy grown adults succumb to this disease. She's so weak and malnourished; I'm surprised she was even walking around a few days ago, like you claim she was. She's a stoic kid."
It was horrifying to hear those phrases pass through my ears. The man who was suppose to help me, was now sentencing me to death. The thoughts crept around my mind; they were eating away at me like creepy bugs. The idea of dying scared me to the core. I knew about death, dad told me about it. It was an endless realm of darkness and you become nothing more than the ash of your former self.
Yes, daddy told me all about Death.
Tears lightly pricked at my eyes.
"However, I do believe with some assistance and antibiotics; a miracle can happen." My heart fluttered slightly. A miracle?
"Now, I'm going to start her off with an injection. From there, she'll need these pills swallowed whole for the next twenty-one days. Not one day should be missed. Otherwise, the process will have to start all over. Understand?"
"Yes-" Both Farlan and Isabel were instantaneous with their responses.
"Very good." The doctor fiddled with a small bottle along with a thin-finger-long needle. My blood ran cold at the sight of the terrifying item. I remembered something similar to this.
"No-no-no-" I pleaded in rapid breathes. "I won't cough-I promise-I won't be trouble. Please-Please no shot!" I was begging at Farlan and Isabel. My eyes were wide with panic. They wouldn't do this to me? I thought I had been good. I hadn't done anything wrong, right? I did everything as perfect as possible, just like Daddy had taught me. I was no trouble.
"Elke, its just a simple poke. It won't hurt that much. Here just-" Farlan tried to wrestle me back towards the doctor. I squirmed and fought. Yes, I acted out. The tears poured from my eyes. I was heartbroken and scared down to every nerve in my body. Dad was right; you shouldn't trust people. "It'll make you feel better-Elke!" Farlan was startled when I threw myself on the opposite side of the floor.
"No-no poke." I quivered in sobs. I wobbled to my feet as I braced myself against the bed. "Daddy-dad-"
As if on cue a pair of stiff arms wrapped around my torso. I fought intensely, and blindly clawed at the limbs that were lifting me upwards. I kicked and thrashed against the tight hold.
"Let me go! No- I don't want it! Let go!" I struggled even with the sickly body I had. My congested cries filled the room. I didn't want this. The idea of being forced, caged, swarmed inside of me like agitated bugs. The fear of what was to come, challenged me to take drastic measures. I opened my jaw as wide as I could and positioned my teeth near the flesh of my holder. Before I could chomp, the arms holding me twisted me inwards. My chest met with soft clothes. My tears spilled on the fibers next to my cheek.
"You bite me brat, and I'll bite back."
Instantly, I craned my head upward. Levi had a non-amused expression resting on his face. I wished now, I had just taken the pain. The fight was over.
"Will she hold still for you?" The doctor questioned. I felt Levi's firm hands supporting me. Sort of like, a mild threat.
"She better-" He mumbled. I looked from the older man to Levi. The clock started once the doctor started making his way over. Fighting wasn't an option, however-
"Levi-Sir, please don't let him hurt me. Pl-please I won't-" My words were interrupted when I felt a heavy weight hang over my shoulders. I knew that feel. I snuggled deeper into the jacket, that piece of clothing had become a comfort.
"As long as this is around you-" Levi adjusted his old fabric, "no harm will ever come to you. Think of it, like a shield." I starred at him with uncertainty.
"How does it work, Sir?" I asked. His steel eyes looked ahead and then they shifted to me. He took a breath.
"It works only when you think of impossible things." Levi replied clearly. I was so engrossed in his words, that I hadn't heard the footsteps creeping up behind me. My arms had looped around his neck. He had my full attention.
"Im-impossible-Sir?" I did my best to pronounce the word. Levi moved his hand to support my leaning back.
"Yes-something you wish you could accomplish but never thought you could." I let a perplexed expression cross my face. What did accomplish mean? I felt a warm grip tug at my arm. I jumped in Levi's hold. Tears started to water in my eyes.
"Tell me-" I quickly looked at Levi. He had never asked me anything. "Something you have always wanted but never was allowed." I had to really think for a moment.
"Um, I've always wanted to try another jelly donut. Like the one Dad bought me before. They were really-" Levi shook his head.
"That's not impossible enough."
I sniffed up the dried tears. "Um, um I've-" I halted. Maybe I shouldn't say what came to my mind. What would Levi think? The man holding me shifted his weight.
"Well-?" Again, the pressure was on me. I darted my eyes around.
"I've-I've always wanted to go up there, again." I raised my head to the ceiling.
"Tch." I shuttered at the response. Then I heard a slight, amused snort. "That'll work, brat." I nearly gleamed. Had I actually responded appropriately to his question? I starred at him with pride.
"All done here." The doctor's voice interrupted my thoughts. I turned to look at the older man. He had lowered the needle in his hand. A small seep of blood dripped from my arm. I tilted my head as I watch the man wipe my arm clean. "And you say she's not your daughter."
"Before you go, could you look at her eye? It seems to be getting worse" Farlan asked.
After the invisible shield had protected me, the way Levi had said, I was settled back into bed. Though, I really wanted to still be held. However, I decided not to push my luck. Ending on a good note, was pleasing enough.
"Ah yes- your friend had mentioned it when he was persuading-" The doctor coughed, "more like threated me to come." Isabel and Farlan could be heard moaning over the embarrassment of their leader. Apparently, against his size, Levi used force to make things happen quite often.
Levi rattled the bottle of pills, "Got the job done, though." The doctor huffed as he returned to the bedside. I was still wrapped in the jacket I had refused to be removed from its skin. My eyes were slowly growing heavy.
"Let's see-uh" The man choked on his words when his fingers opened my own lids. "Holy-"
"Um, Levi-Sir?" I asked softly. My thumbs twiddled inside the sleeves of the jacket. Levi sat in the chair across the room. His cold eyes were still fixed on the book. He hadn't stopped flipping though the pages since Isabel and Farlan left.
Which was quite sometime ago.
"Sir-?" I tried again, except with a stronger voice. Levi didn't bother to look at me he simply kept scanning the pages.
"Hm?" I swallowed before continuing.
"Uh, Sir, um wh-what did the doctor mean when he said I had-had uh a Cato-" I stopped midsentence unable to say the word.
"Cataract." Levi clarified as he flipped another page. I sat in silence for a moment.
"Yeah, what does that mean?" I then slipped in a 'Sir' at the end. I couldn't be improper around him. He set such high standards, I couldn't disappoint.
"It explains why your eye has that bluish-" Levi hesitated, "well, whitish film over the iris. Also, solves the question as to why you bump into things and misjudge distances. We discovered that when we tossed you that bag and it bounce off your head. It illustrates a lot actually." I gently touched my eye. I may not be able to see my hand from that side, however I could still feel my tender fingers.
"Why do you think that man left after he felt my head? I mean, I know I yelped accidently but-but I didn't mean to honest-" Levi sighed before he lowered the book.
"You ask a lot of questions when you're no longer sick." I played with the sleeves of the jacket after I realized I had annoyed him. "Not really sure why, brat. He didn't make a lot a sense to begin with. Shouldn't be surprised though. His damn ass was thrown out from his surface practice years ago. He's a low dirty piece of shit. Surprised he was actually able to treat you." Levi looked at me. I nodded in understanding.
"Tch. I can tell you want to ask another question. " My eyes went wide at Levi's words.
"No! Uh-well-I mean-" I stuttered as I was fumbled for an explanation.
"Just ask before I start reading again."
"I was-was wondering if you could read out loud." I looked away from him. Embarrassment leaked on my cheeks. It was true though. Anytime, Levi was here and wasn't cleaning he was engrossed in story. I figured it must be good literature since he never stopped. They were probably exciting like the one's mom read to me when I was younger. Maybe they even had pictures.
"I doubt Der Prozess would be captivating for you." Levi replied casually. I let my shoulders deflate at the rejection.
"Oh-" Then I heard that 'sigh'.
"Tell you what. I'll read out loud if you promise to take your meds without a damn fuss this time. " After nearly two weeks of being bed ridden and choking pills down, I finally had a reason to let out a huge smile. I nearly jumped with excitement as Levi handed me my glass of water and the carrot sized med. It was horribly bitter, yet it wouldn't hinder me this time. I guzzled the cup to its final drop. The pill rested in my belly.
I waited patiently, as Levi pulled the wooden chair towards the side of the bed. He positioned himself, with a crossed leg, and one arm over the back of the chair. He then opened the book back to his original spot.
"What's it about?" I asked happily. The raven hair man turned the novel over in his hand as if he was trying to find the answers written somewhere.
"It's about a man, who is charged, persecuted, by an unidentified agency and is convicted of a crime we no nothing about. Has a rather tragic ending." Levi said. I pondered.
"How do you know how it ends then, Sir?"
"I've re-read this novel more times than I can count, brat."
"Doesn't that get boring, Sir?"
"Tch, no. Every time I re investigate this story, I find something new. Every time, you get another clue that you missed before. Every time- another hidden truth is discovered. Life's like layers brat, getting to the center takes time."
I sat there and thought as deeply as I could about what Levi had said. I wasn't entirely sure if I understood him, however I liked how it sounded. Levi, in my eyes, was a vast ocean of endless information and wisdom.
He reminded me of my Dad.
"Chapter five-" Levi began.
I listen intently, as I was careful not to miss a secret piece. Levi had velvet-like voice when he read. It wasn't harsh; instead, it was steady and soothing. He paused when necessary, turned the page with ease, and never stumbled over a word.
I loved every moment of it, and like a sponge soaked up the memories.
"I don't think he did it-" I said in the middle of Levi's reading.
"We're not even half way through. Why do you say that, brat?"
"Because, he sounds like a pretty good guy-" I snuggled into my jacket as I edge closer to his side of the bed. I looked at him with a small smile.
You don't need both eyes to see everything.
Please note, I'm not a doctor.
Don't expect all medical references to be accurate.
It's a Fanfiction-information isn't all going to be exact to life.