The Only Thing They Have In Common
Diana & Yarsem Rade
This story is for Solie Tracin, who really did smile!
"Daddy? I don't feel good. It's hard to breathe."
Corran Horn woke up immediately, and picked up his daughter, standing beside the bed, and patted her back, "Is that better?" He knew it wasn't, for he heard the wheezing and telltale gurgling noise as Jysella struggled to take in air. She started to sob as she gasped and coughed for oxygen.
"Don't cry, I'll call Mommy, okay?"
He put Jysella back into her bed and immediately ran to place a call to Mirax. He got her, and explained that their daughter was wheezing and there was a deep sound like she was making bubbles in a pond. Mirax's voice turned to panic, "She needs to get to the MedCenter! It sounds like that lung infection that's going around. A couple of kids were found drowning in their own infection liquids!"
Corran tried to remain calm as he went back to Jysella's room to dress her, but couldn't contain his anxiety when he touched her skin and felt her burning with a high fever. She looked up at him without any energy, through dull eyes. Through the Force, he felt her presence wane.
He stopped trying to take her out of her pyjamas and instead quickly wrapped her in her blanket and carried her out to the street. He looked like a wild man, hailing an air taxi to speed him to the MedCenter.
Jysella clung to him, but otherwise he felt no energy coming from her. She was hot and listless and her breathing was shallower and more labored. "Why did this happen on my shift? I have no clue what to do!"
Corran, in his pyjama bottoms, bearing his half-dressed daughter, ran into the emergency entrance and started hollering that he needed help, his child was near death!
He rounded a corner and ran smack into the gut of Booster Terrik -- his father-in-law -- who took Jysella from him and ran the other way. "I've already done the sign-in, CorSec," he yelled back, using the much-abhorred nickname, "the doctor is waiting for her down here!" Corran had no chance to do anything different, and in his panicky state, he was sort of relieved that Booster had taken point.
Doctors try to maintain "sabacc faces" when inspecting patients, trying not to give anything away. But this doctor's eyes grew wide when he hooked the small girl to the analysis 'droid. He asked who the child's guardian was, and Corran watched as Booster struggled briefly not to claim responsibility. Corran nodded, "I'm her father, and this is her grandfather."
Injecting a drug into Jysella, he told them he suspected pneumonia and perhaps appendicitis. Simple enough to treat, but the only way to positively diagnosis these conditions was through clinical observation and a mediscan. The scan would take about five minutes, often more time than a sick child could stand still. And she would have to stand, not lie down.
"Then what are we waiting for?" boomed Booster's voice, "Get to it, man!"
As soon as she was unhooked from the 'droid, Jysella was quickly rolled onto a repulsorlift gurney and taken down the hall. The doctor asked them to help with the procedure, since protective lead plates would have to be adhered to her body to protect sensitive, growing tissue, like her reproductive organs , liver, lymph, thyroid, etc. Corran protested about using such a dangerous scan, but the doctor shrugged away his concern, "You can help, or she'll die."
As the child was loosely strapped upright into a standing position, Corran suddenly had a question, "Booster, how did you know we were coming?"
"Mirax knew I'd just arrived on Coruscant, and told me Jysella was sick with that bug that killed other kids her age," his face was grim, "I knew I couldn't get to your place fast enough, so I chanced that you'd show up at the MedCenter and logged her in while I was waiting for you." Corran thanked him for thinking ahead, but stopped short of admitting he had no idea what to do.
The doctor interrupted them and showed them a holo and a trolley full of lead plates, hammered and clipped into different shapes. A liquid adhesive could be used to adhere these to Jysella's skin, and the scan frequencies would not penetrate through. They would be aiming the waves at her chest and abdomen, so her gonads and other major organs needed to be protected. They could undress her, but neither Corran nor Booster felt comfortable with that, and opted to try and tuck the plates in beneath her pyjamas. In some cases, they tried to adhere the plates directly over her clothes, but they shifted too much.
"No, put the glue here! No, you missed! Dammit, CorSec!" Fortunately, Jysella was half asleep and hadn't realized her grandfather had sworn. But she would fade in and out of full consciousness and looked frightened at what was going on. "Daddy! That's cold! Don't pull, that hurts!"
"I'm sorry, LaLa," her father reverted to using her baby name, "I'm trying my best."
"What are you doing, Daddy? Why are we here?"
"You're sick, La-" Corran started, but was interrupted by Jysella's grandfather.
"Jysella, you're having your picture taken!" Booster forced his voice to be light and happy, "It's like a holo, you know what they are, right?"
The girl looked up and noticed her grandfather there for the first time, and nodded, still a bit confused. Corran frantically applied the lead pieces according to the diagram the doctor had given him, taking advantage of the momentary diversion in Jysella's attention.
"It's a special holo," continued Booster, "and it will take a holo of the inside of you! Isn't that wonderful?"
Jysella's eyes grew wide. She had never heard of such a thing!
Glue, glue, paste, paste, nearly done, Corran tried not to let his panic grow as the doctor tapped his chrono.
"Because it needs to get inside you to make the holo, you'll have to stand still for a while, so it doesn't go all blurry, okay?" Booster was smoothing her hair off her forehead. The girl nodded, suddenly feeling sleepy again, "Can I see the holo?"
"Of course," assured Corran, "it will be beautiful! Now, stand still, like Gramps said, okay?"
Before she could ask again, the scan generators were placed around Jysella and the men were told to leave the room. She could see them peering through a porthole, and Corran and Booster shoved each other to make sure they always stayed in view. Jysella's eyes seemed unfocussed and she wobbled a bit, and it was all Corran could do to keep from breaking open the lock and running into the room.
The doctor asked one of the men to announce over the loudspeaker to Jysella when the process would start. Corran swallowed hard, wondering if he could steady his voice for the task, but then Booster stepped up to the comlink, telling Corran to make sure his granddaughter saw her father through the porthole. Corran tried to smile at her and she waved at him with her fingertips, a bit listlessly.
Before turning the comlink on, Booster growled in a low voice to his son-in-law, "If anything happens to her, CorSec, I swear you will regret the day you were born!"
Smiling through the porthole Corran responded out of the side of his mouth, "You old so-and-so, you don't think I feel bad enough already? You think there is anything I won't do to make sure she's okay?"
Booster's eyes filled with unshed tears, "CorSec, she and Valin are the only things I have in common with you and your father. Regrettable, isn't it?" Invisible to his granddaughter, the big man surreptitiously wiped his eyes before the drops fell. He cleared his throat and smiled, the better to project a cheerful voice.
"LaLa, sweety? They're going to take the holo now, so stand straight and proud, dear, like I told you? Don't worry, Daddy will stay at the window and I'll keep talking. We won't leave you, I promise. We'll let you know when you can relax, okay? Now be a good soldier and take a deep breath ..." They all jumped at the CLUNK! sound of the shutters opening as the scan began.
Jysella heard it too, and she suddenly pulled her body straight and her lips formed into her widest, most brilliant smile! Her eyes sparkled and her whole body projected happiness.
Her father and grandfather stared silently, stunned at Jysella's sudden and radiant smile.
"She's a beautiful child," murmurred the technician, seeing the girl's pose for her holo.
Booster was proud, "She's my granddaughter!"
Corran was proud, "That's my girl!"
The doctor laughed, "What a wonderful thing to have in common!"
The two men looked at each other and grinned. "Nice young lady you're raising, CorSec," muttered Booster.
"Thanks ... Gramps!"
Being very careful not to move, as her grandfather had instructed her, she maintained her sparkling smile throughout the whole ordeal. Jysella smiled even more broadly hearing the familiar sounds of her father scuffling with her grandfather. She knew everything would be all right. It was a comforting sound, and she felt better hearing it!
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