Prompt: 4. Bedpan
Character(s): Derek, Peter Hale, Nurse
Word Count: 1,039
The curtain is drawn as he comes into the room, from behind it someone hums a song he doesn't know, an aide he assumes. He checks his watch and realizes belatedly he's arrived in the time gap where the patients get their morning care. He knocks on the door to announce his presence.
"Yes?" It comes a moment before a head peeks from behind the curtain.
"I'm his nephew. I came to visit. I'll come back when you're finished. Sorry."
He turns in swift retreat but not quick enough to exit before the woman answers, "You can stay, if you'd like. You can talk to him while I do his care."
It's on a whim that he decides to stay. He debates with himself later if it was worth it or not.
The aide's uniform is different than the ones he normally sees. He mentions it as he takes up space on the other side of the bed while she raises the head of the bed with the remote.
"Nurses' aides wear grey with white overlay, LPNs wear plain white, and RNs wear white with the blue hems."
His eyes are drawn to the neck of her crisp uniform dress, it's rimmed with blue. She steps around the curtain to fill a basin. He eyes the shaving set-up lying on the overbed table.
"So you're a real nurse?" He asked thinking specifically about the red-headed nurse who had confronted him and McCall a night past and her white uniform.
She laughs, amused and rolls her eyes in a habitually way that doesn't come off as rude as he thinks it would if she were offended.
"Yes, I'm a real nurse. But don't say that to an LPN, they hate that."
He watches her wring out a washcloth in the basin and press it to his uncle's cheeks, softening the prickle hairs like a skilled barber. It's with an odd sort of fascination that he studies the way she goes about the process.
"Don't the aides do morning care?"
She makes a sound in her throat that he takes for the same response as a shrug.
"Normally, but they're short staffed on aides and so they hire agency nurses like me to come in for a few months to do whatever they are lacking staff for."
Her hands are confident as she applies the mousse into her hand and coats the face of her patient evenly; she wipes them off with a separate washcloth.
"So is it annoying when they ask you to do stuff like this?"
The razor moves with smooth strokes, she taps it out in the water. She's done it before, he's positive.
"I don't mind. It's nice because instead of having an even split of patients between all of the nurses here the five of us agency ones are only with the patients that need more involved care."
"So you're like his personal nurse?"
She removes all lingering traces of the shaving cream and as she bustles around emptying and refilling the basin he studies her with a careful stare that he tries to make as flippant and casual as possible, so as not to come off intensely creepy.
Her hair is dark and her bun is tight and severe, the uniform is unflattering and too long but she is young and attractive in a sterile way and serious with her tasks.
He can smell the lingering trace of cigarettes and strong coffee on her under the scent of butterscotch that he recognizes as Obsession cologne, but it isn't subtle enough for her to have had it rub off from someone else.
It smells strange on a woman but not unpleasant.
"Can you teach me how to do some of his care?"
She looks up, curious.
"You'd like to help?" It sounds like a challenge and if he wasn't sure before he is now.
Her smile apples her cheeks and bares her teeth.
"Okay. Sure, we'll start with bedmaking."
His face must be awful enough to prompt her to laugh and she does it more at herself than the aghast expression he wears.
"I know, what's complicated about making a bed, right? Mitered corners," she explains as if he knows what mitered corners are and he shares her dislike of them.
"Has he ever said anything?"
He stares hard at the burn scars when he asks.
"…, No." Her pause is full of things she doesn't know how to put into words, it takes her a moment.
"But he communicates well. It takes time for him to respond, when damage occurs to the brain the pathways for thought to travel on change; some deteriorate, some disappear, and some branch off. The expressway is gone but the back-road is still open."
Nodding he tries to find understanding or even awareness in the bedridden and chair bound man's eyes, he finds blank dullness in its place.
"…I've been trying, but he never answers me."
The nurse nods and arranges bed linens in the order she will use them.
"It's hard to have patience when you don't have all the facts or understand them. Sometimes nurses and doctors forget that families aren't medically educated and they cut out the facts that to them aren't important because they already know them. So if I ever say anything and you have no idea what I'm talking about, tell me. Okay?"
Derek answers with a simple nod.
He takes off his jacket so it doesn't constrict his arms while she teaches him how to roll his uncle to the other side of the bed while she changes his bedding with him still in the bed.
It is harder than it looks despite the ease with which she goes through the motions. Quick and explanatory in each gesture, he keeps up but only just.
The thought that he is grateful crosses his mind, grateful that he does not have to care for his addled uncle every day, and the thought shames him.
Resolute he stays for the rest of the morning and learns how to bathe, feed, and perform passive range of motion. It is a burden and he'd been away long enough to forget that it's now his to bear.