A/N: My overactive mind dreamed this up one night. It didn't make any sense, so I tweaked it so it does make sense, and I wrote in in a waiting room (which just happens to be an excellent place to write, by the way, save for the screaming children).
Anyway, if you don't like OC's, please note that this OC is more of a plot device and will not return for later chapters if I actually write them. The same goes for the first person/present tense. I haven't decided whether to write more as of yet.
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
Chapter One - Chaos
The noise level in the crowded hospital waiting room is just short of deafening. An abnormal amount of people – adults, mostly, but some kids like me as well – crammed together in the room, looking for some sort of fuel to fire their need for breaking news. That really bothers me, when people flock to places to catch a glimpse of another person's pain, just because the person is famous or something. I hate it especially when people with real problems need the space more, like me or this girl next to me.
Well, she's actually a grown woman, but she looks pretty sick in my opinion. We've spoken only a little, mostly about the amount of people here, but I have learned a little bit about her since she sat down next me about ten minutes ago, right after they brought in that "special case" that drew the crowd in. She's blind, and she doesn't particularly want to be here, but she never said why she was here. Actually, she looks like she's hiding, because she's wearing a cloak that covers her milky green eyes, and she's dressed in black right down to her bare feet, which never leave the ground. While she acts indifferent, for the most part, I can tell that she's nervous and probably ill; she's got this pale look about her, like she's worried about something.
"What's wrong with you, again?" she asks. I can tell that she's just trying to keep her mind off of whatever is bothering her.
I sniffle. My tears have long since vanished, but my nose is still runny and it bothers me. "Broken arm," I say. "I think I might need an earth cast or something, but the medics are all busy with the –"
"Good times," she cuts in sarcastically, not wanting to address the subject at hand. "I'd help you out – I'm an Earthbender, see – but I'm not a doctor and, quite frankly, I don't want or need to be recognized right now."
I open my mouth to ask why, but at that moment she gasps, says a name I don't quite catch, and flips backwards off the bench.
"What the –?" I grab my arm to my chest to keep it from moving around too much and crane my neck back to see where she'd gone. I see her retreat to the back of the room and sit behind a large man with lots of tattoos. A split second after she vanishes, the front door opens and a man darts in, looking as sick and worried as the blind woman. The man, who has a nice-looking, scruffy sort of beard, approaches the front desk and speaks to the secretary, who looks rather strained. What he says, I cannot tell (because he whispers), but the secretary nods. Then, before I have a chance to hear them speak again and without peering around at all us hospital-goers, the man darts off after a nurse and into the emergency ward.
I sniffle again. My runny nose has really gotten on my nerves, and my arm has grown numb since I arrived here hours ago. Since this special case had been rushed in, the rest of us have been abandoned. I'm not bitter about it or anything, but I still think it's not fair that kids like me get ignored because of things like this.
Several people pass by my seat near the secretary's desk in the bearded man's wake, one of which bumps my broken arm as they pass. The pain erupts from the broken bone and travels up my arm, and I can only gasp in surprise and grab my arm to my chest again. It doesn't do much, and it doesn't keep a fresh batch of tears from falling down my face, but it immobilizes the wound enough. I cry quietly to myself.
Somewhere in a place that seems far distant to a crying kid, the door opens again and another man comes into view. My tears stop almost right away. I know who this man is, and I also know that this is what all these extra people have been waiting for. The sound in the room drops to a few excited whispers. The man, clad in an orange robe and carrying a long walking stick-type thing, looks very much aware of his surroundings, but no less worried than the other man that had entered beforehand. In an attempt to draw less attention to himself (or rather, I thought, to keep from displaying how he actually feels) he acknowledges the secretary in what he assumes must be a nonchalant tone. I think he sounds petrified.
He and the secretary whisper for a moment, and the secretary nods her head in the direction of the emergency ward doors. He nods and bows to her before glancing around the room.
"Busy day," he observes with a pained smile. "Looks like half of Ba Sing Se is here."
The secretary shakes her head. "Half of them don't need anything other than something to gossip about. The word's spread fast, you know. They don't know what or why, but they know who. As for the medics – they're all working on the case now."
The man's eyebrows rise. "All of them?"
The secretary nods. The man frowns. My jaw drops a little as he leans across the desk and says, "I don't think that's right – other people need help, too. Who's next on the waiting list?"
To my utmost surprise, the secretary points one old finger in my direction. "Broken arm and a few abrasions – she filled out a form under the name Lena."
When the man turns and his eyes land on me, I feel myself shrink down in my rickety old hospital chair. The man nods.
"Hey there, Lena." A split-second later, he is standing in front of me, as quick as if the air carried him over. His voice is kind. "How old are you?"
I am suddenly aware that my nose is probably dripping, and that my face is stained with tears. I sniffle yet again, annoyed that I don't even have a long sleeve to wipe my nose on so that I could look presentable to the Avatar. "I'm eight years old," I answer.
A small smile comes to his face, though it is not a happy one, and as if he read my mind, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out an orange handkerchief. "Keep it; it's clean," he says, handing it to me. I take it with my good hand and wipe my nose. "Aren't you a little young to be here by yourself? Have you got family here with you?"
Frowning, I shake my head. "I live on my own, Avatar Sir. Broke my arm 'cause I fell carrying my stuff to somewhere to stay."
"I see. And how long have you been waiting for help?"
My chair feels uncomfortable. I shift and wince at the pain in my arm. "A few hours, Sir," I say, knowing exactly what I am going to say and not wanting to talk about it. But it's just one of those things that I can't keep myself from saying. "Is your wife going to be okay?"
Now it is he who seems taken aback. He tries to reassure me with a kind smile, fails, and places a hand on my good shoulder. "I'm going to get you a doctor now, and afterwards you're going to spend the night in the children's ward, just in case you have any problems. Okay?"
I find that I can't smile; the muscles in my face seem to be frozen in a dead stare, so I can only nod. At this moment, I would give him every doctor in the world to help his wife if I could, if only it would take away that terrible, pained sadness in his stormy gray eyes.
A/N: Like I said, not sure if I'll add more or not. But if I do, it'll be back to regular tense for me; this present tense business is too much work for something I do as a hobby.
So okay, here's the part I need from you, my lovely readers. If you want more, tell me. If you don't, tell me that you don't. Simple enough, no?
Thanks for reading!