Sergio approaches Raquel again, seeing his colleague busy with someone else, and takes a deep breath.
"Raquel, I know you're scared. I'm scared too," he speaks slowly and quietly close to her ear. "Please come back to me. Please."
Sitting in front of her, Sergio gently puts her hand onto his, and for a few seconds he covers it with his second hand to sooth her. Then slowly – making sure not to scare her with anything sudden – he moves a tiny jar of guava jam to her nose, letting her inhale the smell just once. She loved it back in Palawan, and he sees how her breathing fastens just a little, she inhales again, visibly wanting to smell it once more. He lets her. And then removes the jar, and waits for her to calm down. Then he puts a slice of tomato in front of her nose for a brief moment - no reaction. Same result comes from a few more items, and then he decides to take a bit more risk and uses bitter balm. Raquel's hand tenses as she almost pulls it away from him, her nose wrinkling. Sergio watches her carefully, sighs and then replaces the balm with a tiny container of coffee beans.
He tries some mint - and to his relief he can feel Raquel's hand relax on his again, her fingers bend just a little as if to take hold of him. She inhales deeper than before, aiming to get as much of this smell as possible. He wishes he'd have her favorite perfume with him, but somehow he never thought to bring it from the Philippines…
She is responsive, he nods to himself, squeezing his eyes shut. She is. But mostly so to the personal memories, apparently hidden deep enough to stay unharmed.
With a deep breath, he puts her hand back onto her lap and gets up. As far as he can see, she doesn't lift her face towards him as he leaves. She just keeps on sitting, her expression blank, but he's already got hope, and that's good enough. Now he better attend to other patients before someone starts wondering why he pays so much attention to just one…
It is Raquel's crying that makes Sergio freeze on the other side of the hall. At first he doesn't realize it is her, screams being too wild and loud and ferocious, he's never heard her voice in so much distress. But then it hits Sergio – for a few moments he sees nothing but darkness. He is in the middle of administering an IV, there is no way he can just leave, but he hurries up. And this is when it gets worse, because the faster his heartbeat gets, the harder it is to aim the needle. He misses the patient's vein twice, each time earning a painful groan from the old man in front of him.
"Sorry," he apologizes drily without even hearing his own words. All there is for him are Raquel's screams and his own blood pounding in his ears as his panic rises.
The old man nods understandingly. He hears the screams too, they sound disturbing.
As soon as Sergio is done, he practically runs through the corridor, and then slows down, seeing Gabriela and three other – male – nurses holding Raquel on a bed. They're almost done tying her up when he approaches.
"Is there… something I can do?" he inquires, unable to look away from Raquel's distressed reddened face. Her mouth is open, reveling toothless gums, cheeks are all wet and there's a net of broken capillaries under the skin. She gasps for air, and cries, but the sounds are becoming slightly quieter.
"I've already injected her with a sedative," Gabriela responds without turning her face to Sergio. "She just…" she snaps her fingers to show how quickly Raquel's situation escalated.
"But this has happened before, right?" he asks worriedly.
"Not like this, no. The other times meds were enough to calm her down. Seems we're gonna have to keep a close eye on her overnight. Let's give it a few minutes," she motions to the other male nurses and they leave.
He glances at her one last time before he has to follow Gabriela to their other patients, and then returns, hoping to find Raquel asleep. She is still struggling. Uncertain, he comes closer. This can't be good.
He stands above her bed, watching her restless features. Raquel is pulling against the soft restraints, helplessly trying to free her hands and feet. Sergio frowns. With the amount of sedatives she's been injected, she should be out by now. There is no way she can be awake. Yet, her movements get more and more aggressive, and Raquel moans and then cries out quietly. Again and again. He looks around to make sure nobody's watching him, and then takes the final step towards her, places his palm on her forehead soothingly. Her skin is wet and warm. For a moment he feels it's working, and Raquel's hysteria subsides, but then she pulls against her restraints even harder, moving her head chaotically.
"Please, Raquel, please," he begs into her ear, his own voice about to crack into sobs.
And then he breaks. He cannot watch her like this anymore. Sergio glances around one last time, and then reaches out to untie the belts holding Raquel pressed to the bed. He knows she'll hit him the moment her hands are not restrained, and she does. Her seizure-like movements are uncontrollable, and it takes all of Sergio to hold her tight to remove the belts. It took three men to put her down just a few minutes ago, he reminds himself. He might very much get in trouble for freeing her if she injures herself… Or him. Or anybody else. But he would rather hold her in his arms right now. He keeps pleading with her, whispering into her ear, ready for anything, and just hoping she won't switch from groaning to a full mode screaming… But the moment she is no longer pinned to the bed, Raquel's fight is over. She rolls from her back to her side, putting her palms together close to her face and drawing her knees to her chest. Sergio watches her in astonishment as she peacefully drifts to sleep in a fetal position.
All she wanted was to lie on her side. Not on her back. That's all the problem was, he chuckles.
He rubs his eyes to stop imagining why Raquel is so distressed when put on her back. He better not think about it. Not now.