The Quiet Before the Storm

Characters: Eleanor O'Hara, Zoey Barkow, mentions of Jackie and other characters.

Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Genre: Comfort, pre-femslash, kinda?

Rating: R for some slight swearing. Just a small word, really.

Spoilers: Season finale.

Summary: Eleanor and Zoey talk while they wait for Jackie to show up.

For inneffort via Fall Fandom Free For All, who asked for anything Dr. O'Hara or Zoe centric.

A/N: I'm so sorry it took me ages and that this turned out to be more of a comfort thing instead of the femslash I suggested then, but after writing two silly smutty Zoey/O'Hara fics this just turned out like... this. I hope there's something about it that you like. Because, you know, I just about died with the Norah/Lynn story you wrote me :D

A/N2: The absurd bit about Mo-mo and an elevator is just my bizarre way to express my disbelief with the news we got about him and the show. Oh and no beta, so all mistakes are mine. Sorry about those. Okay, that's all.

Eleanor watches the tiny woman on the bed; how frail she looks with the tubes on her nose, the countless needles marks on her thin forearms, the pallor of her skin.

Her mother is going to die.

One thing it's to know that, and another completely different is to watch as it happens in front of your eyes. She feels that awful lump in her throat and she knows she is about to cry like an idiot again.

Where the fuck is Jacks?

As soon as that thought goes through her mind there's a knock on the door, and and Eleanor assumes it's Jackie, efficient as always.

It's just Zoey though.

The young woman peeks her head inside and starts, "Hey doctor I," just to to stop when she notices the Eleanor's face. She immediately steps into the room and asks with genuine concern; the silly thing, "Are you alright?"

The last thing she expected to do tonight does happen then; she smiles. Zoey is back to her pink, weird self. A bigger than normal pink lace on her hair. "You've changed your scrubs."

Zoey smiles faintly, but it's nothing like that goofy smile she wears all that time and Eleanor is surprised to realize she actually misses it.

"Yeah, Jackie kept complaining and the boys said I looked like a donkey so I decided to change them." She shrugs and completes, "Mr. Nutterman woke up."

"He did? Good." Eleanor says and she means it. Jackie's got problems enough and Zoey, well she was stupid but she never really meant any of that. She always means well, Zoey. That's what kills Eleanor.

"No it's not good, he's..." She trails off looking on verge of tears. "I broke him. He doesn't remember that he's a movie critic, he thinks 'Showgirls' is awesome, Mrs. Akalitus is going to kill me when she sees what happened, I'm in so much trouble right now and also I don't have a gaydar and..." She babbles almost incomprehensible and her voice starts to rise.

"Zoey, shut up." Eleanor cuts her off firmly and nods to dying woman on the bed.

"Ooh, I'm sorry." Zoey puts both her hands over her mouth and steps closer to the old woman, touching her hair slightly with a frown. "What's wrong with her?"

"She's dying." Eleanor answers, her voice rough.

"Oh. I'm really sorry. Is that why you wanted Jackie? Thor said you were looking for her everywhere and seemed very upset. I couldn't find her, so I decided to see if I could help."

"You can't treat patients Zoey, how would you help me?" She snaps and then regrets, just like she regretted days ago when she almost bit Zoey's head off when she screwed up.

"I don't know, it's been a weird day." She answers sadly. "Jackie looked really upset after Edie showed up screaming and Mo-Mo took an elevator and I haven't seen him since, and I just wanted to help someone."

"Edie was here?"

That explains a lot.

"Yeah. It wasn't pretty." Zoey looks away clearly remembering what happened and by the way her face gets dark Eleanor can only imagine the scene Edie performed in front of the nurse's station.

"Well, I'm glad I wasn't there then."

"Yeah." Zoey agrees softly and then stares at the ceiling, at the walls, and the floor, playing with both ends of the stethoscope she is not even supposed to be wearing right now. Eleanor snorts and starts to count the seconds until the nurse gives up and asks her whatever it's on her mind.

"Doctor O'Hara?" She says very cautiously, her eyes rising from the floor to Eleanor's face hesitantly.

"Yes?"

"Jackie's in trouble, isn't she?" Her voice is so serious that Eleanor barely recognizes it.

"We're all in trouble, darling." The doctor answers tiredly, her eyes going from Zoey's young, innocent face to her mother's old, suffering one.

All of them, screwed.

"Yeah but, I want to help Jackie. I want to understand her. She is a great person, and I want to be there for her." Zoey says with such a passion that Eleanor wants to shake awake. Because no one will never understand Jackie. God knows Eleanor tried but one day she just gave up because as stupid Jackie's mistakes are, Eleanor fucking loves her. But she'll never completely get Jackie, and why she does the things she does.

"If you want understand Jackie Zoey, the first thing you have to know is that she is no saint." Eleanor says as nicely as she can because she doesn't want to sound like she's bad mouthing her best friend, but Zoey needs to stop thinking of Jackie as one of the all saints of this hospital because that's just dangerous.

Zoey looks at her as if she's gone completely insane and Eleanor knows that must be a first for her, she looking down at people thinking they're crazy instead of the opposite.

"Okay." She says but she is not convinced at all. The doctor sighs. Zoey will just have to learn for herself then.

"Good. That being said, when the time comes, we'll be there for Jackie." She says partly to reassure Zoey, and partly because she knows it's true.

Somehow she is just sure Zoey will be following her and Jackie through these halls for a long time now, and that thought doesn't really bother her. Zoey is incredibly entertaining after all, and Eleanor is always oh so bored. It's oddly comforting.

Zoey smiles that goofy smile of hers for the first time in days, and Eleanor can't help smirking back at her.

"That is so great!" She jumps and then remembers of the woman on the bed and lowers her voice again. "So isn't there really anything I can do to help you now, Doctor?"

"Shouldn't you be home by now?"

"Nah, Mrs. Akalitus wants me around to talk," She explains, the word talk said in a tone remarkably like Mrs. Akalitus. "I'm just waiting for her to find Jackie."

Eleanor knows she should really just stand up and head home to get some sleep instead of making people wonder why she is wasting her precious time in a dying Jane Doe's room chatting with a student nursing who's being investigated; but Zoey looks at her so with such an open expression and Jackie is nowhere to be found and she really doesn't want to be alone tonight so she just pats the chair besides her and says, "Well, sit down then."

Zoey grins excitedly at her like she always does when the doctor gives her her full attention. Then her eyes fall on the bed and her expression is sad again, like she's remembering in how much trouble she is.

Suddenly Eleanor feels the idiotic urge to console the kid. "Stop weeping Zoey. It's common mistake. Bloody stupid, but common. It happens to everyone."

"Has it happened to you?" Zoey's eyes turns to Eleanor, full of hope.

"Of course not." She scoffs. "But that's just because I'm extraordinary." She says and throws her hair back, giving Zoey her best evil smirk.

Zoey actually laughs at that and looks at Eleanor with such a fond look that almost makes the doctor uncomfortable. "See, I knew you use your sense of humor just to hide how totally generous you are!"

Eleanor rolls her eyes and tries not to give Zoey the satisfaction of seeing her smile. "Whatever you say darling, just don't spread it around."

Zoey's overwhelming company helps her to make it through the night.

Jackie only shows up the next morning. Then things fall apart; like they're supposed to.

fin