The Fallen Chapter 19
So... Cid said slowly, in the tone and intonation
of a man who wanted desperately to brooch a subject but really didnt
know how to do it. Finally, he went with his old standby, and simply blurted
it out. Whos the mom?
Cid! Tifa hissed at him, kicking him sharply in the leg, but he simply gave her an exasperated look. Oh *what*!? he asked. Its probably not someone we know!
Actually... Reeve said, and *his* tone and intonation was of someone who was really lying but didnt really mind if people realized it, since the fact that he was lying would make his point nicely in itself, it isnt. And thats why there really isnt any need for you to know. No offense, of course.
None taken. Cid snorted, and then went back to dejectedly leafing through an amazingly out dated magazine.
The five of them were sitting quietly in an all white room while men and women dressed in light blue outfits scurried around busily, carrying trays of food and medicine. A few of them were in white, large and burly men who looked like they could take on the best of the worlds bouncers, equipped with an arsenal that wasnt all that typical- a single syringe, and a backpack filled with reinforced, double stitched white jackets. Even Cloud shrunk backwards when they walked past, less in fear of the men themselves than in fear of the things they did. The tag on their shirt pockets that simply red St. Marys was less than reassuring.
Especially considering the two words that were missing from the name of the institution- Mental Hospital.
They were in the waiting room of St. Marys Mental Hospital, though that wasnt the official name. The official name was something with about six unnecessary words and about thirty unnecessary presumptions, so even someone as politically correct as Tifa preferred to simply refer to it as exactly what it was- a Mental Hospital. Which they were in. And feeling quite uncomfortable, at that.
Maybe you should tell us the story, Tifa said softly, putting a comforting hand on Reeves shoulder even though she herself had no idea why, before we go in and talk to him. I wouldnt want to say anything...
Wrong? Reeve supplied, and then sighed despite his attempt at a calm facade. Well, yes, I guess thats best. There really isnt that much to tell. Hes fifteen, he came in here when he was ten. Hed got in a fight at school, which really is awfully common, but apparently in the principals office later that day hed said a few things that alerted them. They brought in the school counselor, who gave him a form to fill out, essentially judging his stability by a piece of paper.
So he failed. Barret said, not a question. Tact was even less an issue of Barrets than usual, as the feeling of general creepiness kept him irritable.
Horribly. Reeve said slowly. To a degree where they thought he had simply lied. So they told him to take the test again, and he refused. They sent him home, and they put him on temporary suspension until he would retake their test.
And how long did that last? Cloud asked, wincing at his own memories of school and rebelling.
Its still going, I guess, Reeve said, he never did it. After a while, and about three dozen letters to the regulator of education and colleges at Shinra, he said he had found a loop hole. All I had to do was commit Tyler to mental institution- its not as bad as it sounds- Reeve tacked that part in quickly, as Tifas eyes had gone wide in horror. -it would be for all of an hour, and would never show up in any way on any of his personal forms. All he needed to do was pass their psychological exam, and they would instantly release him, and the school would need to take him back.
So what went wrong? Tifa asked, still not over the shock of hearing that Reeve had committed his own son to a place like this.
Two things, I guess, Reeve said. He insisted on committing himself, said something about it would help him save face when he went back to school- God only knows how, but of course I didnt even understand that place when I attended it. And then he passed the test, with flying colors. They said that while he tested rather high for aggression, everything else was on the level with perfect sanity, though they did say he had an odd combination of personality traits.
He passed? Cloud asked in surprise. So how did we get... he waved his hands around them in a circle, here?
Well, passing that test only opened the gate for him to be allowed out of here, Reeve explained, it didnt make him leave. It was the old adage about camels and drinking, I suppose. He chose to stay, and I wasnt allowed to make him come with me, not until he signed the papers that said he was leaving under his own powers. So here he remained, and here he is now.
Thats horrible! Tifa said, putting her hand to her mouth, Couldnt you talk him into coming out??
I tried. Reeve said, and then amended what hed just said. Actually, Im still trying. I visit here every day after work, but half the time he wont even talk to me, and the rest of the time hes just... not interested in what I have to say. He always seems distracted by something, but I dont know what it is, and neither do the shrinks here.
Tifa was about to make another horrified outburst, but she was interrupted by a prim, tall looking nurse in a bizarre first aid hat with little furry cat shaped ears sticking out of the top, probably to do something her stern look would not- put the younger patients at ease. Cid went to ask her about them, but was cut off, like Tifa had been in turn. Hello, she said, in the rushed and final voice of a women who had to give a lot of orders in a relatively short amount of time. My same is Celine Anne, but please just call me CA, everyone else does. I believe you son, she turned directly to Reeve, has been assigned under my care as of yesterday. I assume youre here about the phone calls?
Reeve looked startled. Phone calls? he asked, Im sorry, no, Ive been out of town for a bit... traveling. Why, is something wrong?
No, no, nothing of the sort, CA reassured him, patting his arm in a sympathetic gesture that seemed oddly devoid of warmth. The women was a professional through and through. And through. Hes just being a little difficult lately. Refusing to come in from excersize time, insisting on being switched to a room with a window, its quite odd behavior considering he usually prefers to be left inside in the dark. He wont tell us anything about it, so I called you in hopes that you could maybe get it out of him. Thats not why youre here?
Well, no... Reeve said, looking quite taken aback. But I did come to talk to him, and Ill be sure to ask him what that was about. Can we go see him?
We? CA asked, looking disapprovingly at the other four travelers accompanying Reeve. Im sorry, but only immediate family are allowed to speak with our patients. I thought youd know that by now.
Yes, Reeve said, looking like a kid caught stealing cookies, but... he stared hopelessly at the women in front of him, then looked back in a brow beaten gesture of defeat at the others. It was obvious he had been beaten by this women in such issues several times before, or at least by women like her. OK. He shot a quick look back at the others. ...I wont be long, he sighed, not sounding very hopeful about the success of his mission.
The walk that awaited for him down the long gray colored hallway was never a happy one, as it never had quite a happy beginning and had yet to have a fulfilling conclusion. Of course, that seemed to be almost every walk hed taken in the last fifteen years or so, if you dont count that little debacle with the big falling rock- and lets be honest- he was walking that through VR glasses. Didnt exactly cut it in the long run, and who knows, maybe it fell was a little weak in the short run as well.
This time, however, the walk had a few new turns in it. They had indeed moved his sons room via his request, as the nurse had so primly put it, telling Reeve all he wanted to know about how Tyler had managed to get away with that little piece of special treatment. The room they took him to, while basically the same as the old one, had a wider window to look into it from, and the blinds to that window were, surprisingly, left open at the moment. For a second, Reeve peered in where his son was lying on a regulation white cotton bed, and then turned away just as quickly.
The boy on the bed was fairly short for a male of 16 sets of seasons, but was built fairly widely, and it had never ceased to amaze Reeve how Tyler had managed to stay in shape when most of his time was spent crammed into a 7 x 7 room like this one. Even more curious was the short, bleached state of his hair, as hair cuts were infrequent in this place and hair dye was strictly prohibited. How his son had gotten hold of it Reeve would probably never know, but it stuck him as incredibly odd that, having the resources to sneak something that size into a confinement cell and he chose *bleach*? Besides, it had an odd clashing effect with the red shorts the boy always insisted on wearing, unheeding of the current weather and temperature.
But none of those factors of the boys appearance had caused Reeve to look away. Instead, it was what was wrapped around his only childs shoulders, a tight fitting white coat that bound Tylers arms tightly to his chest, and it just seemed incredibly unnecessary as the boy was lying quiet and docile. Reeve had only seen that jacket put on his son once before, and the way the ever present flash and bang hidden just behind the boys eyes had simply gone out when it was fastened... it had made Reeve sick, and hed literally begged to have the restrainment removed. Angrily, Reeve turned to one of the orderlies.
Why the hell does he have that on? he barked, wishing the man he was yelling at was about a foot and a half shorter and weighed a hundred pounds less so he could threaten him properly.
Disorderly conduct, the man said with a shrug of his beefy shoulders. He hadnt put it on the kid, and very few things annoyed him more when parents and friends took it personally when things were done for the good of the patient.
Well could you take it off? the anger had faded quickly from Reeves voice, which was now just the soft spoken but firm sound of a parent who wanted help for their child. He imagined, had Tyler managed to stay in school, that he would be using the same tone of voice to try to weasel his kids way out of detention when he was caught with a hibachi or something.
The orderly shrugged, and plucked one of the incredibly pompous walkie talkies from his belt, calling God knows who on it, asking for permission to lift the restraints from Reeves boy. He looked tense, and the answer only seemed to make him worse, so Reeve feared a negative answer as the orderly replaced the communication box where it had been. Instead, he got another shrug. Whatever you say, said the man submissively, and unlocked the door to Tylers room. For his part, Tyler didnt even blink to acknowledge that the man was there, or that the door had been opened, until the orderly had come up within three feet of him. Then he sat up with a yawn.
You know, he said idly, his voice oddly high pitched for someone his age. You really need to add a padlock to these or something. And with that, he stretched his arms up over his head, one of the exact things the strait jacket was meant to prevent. The reason why it failed to do that was quite obvious, as somehow every binding on the jacket had come undone, and it slid up over the boys head easily. With a flourish, he tossed it to the orderly, who gave him a sour look.
Very funny, the man said, trying to not act impressed as he quickly scurried back out the door. Ill be right here, he told Reeve, in case something happens. And with that, Reeve entered, and the man shut the door behind him.
Whats with the bird? his son asked, his voice disturbingly void of emotion.
Reeve realized with a start that the small mechanical blue jay that had earlier been content to nestle itself in his shirt pocket and stay still, humming the gentle hum of a machine, had somehow managed to emerge without him feeling it, and was hovering happily around his right ear.
New pet, he said with a shrug, prompting an offended sounding chirp from the bird.
Dad. Tyler said slowly. Is this about the window?
Reeve paused at that one, and then nodded. Well, sort of, he admitted.
Hm. Tyler hummed thoughtfully, changing subjects in the time of a heart beat. I have something for you.
Oh really? Reeve asked with general surprise, not a parent used to getting crafts, gifts, or really anything besides vague recognition from his child.
Mhm... Tyler muttered absently, and quickly began to fish around under his mattress. He seemed to catch something, but after a moment of examining it with his hand, moved on. This process repeated several times, and Reeve began to wonder just how much contraband was stashed under there. Before he got to ask, Tylers face lit up, and with a crumpling sound he pulled a tablet of badly wrinkled papers out into the open. Here it is!
Reeve reached for the papers with a tentative hand, knowing it was very likely that his son would suddenly yank them back out of his reach, destroy them, and never speak of them again. It was just the sort of thing Tyler did when he got bored. Instead, the youth seemed very eager for Reeve to take them, and impatient with the slowness he was extending his arm ended up thrusting them into his fathers palm. Quickly, Reeve scanned the header. Release forms... he said, and hastily flipped to the back page, and looked down to the bottom. There were many signatures there, must of them having been inked years ago, but there was one fresh one- Tyler Lucia, written in dark red ink. You signed them! Reeve said happily.
Yeah, well. Tyler paused, as if he didnt have a single idea at what should follow those two words. Yes. I did. That seemed to do nicely. I cant very well go on a trip with you if Im locked in here, can I?
For a moment, Reeve thought his son was speaking of some sort of vacation, and was just about to explain that they had something very important to do first- before realizing that the important thing was exactly what Tyler had been talking about. He looked up from the papers in confusion. How did you...?
Little bird. Like yours. It told me. Tyler explained, and seeing the stunned look on his fathers face, suddenly burst out laughing. Kidding, kidding. Though it did go well with the whole window, ne? Actually, I just sort of figured it out one morning. Or one night. Either way, I woke up in the morning with the distinct knowledge that I had to get the hell out of here and go somewhere with you. Go figure, right?
...right. Reeve was beginning to feel dizzy, which was an altogether too common side effect when he spoke to his son. While Tyler always spoke cryptically, and with some of the oddest syntax since the muppet in that science fiction movie Reeves one friend had liked so much, he had never given any indication of premonition before.
So. We goin? Tyler spoke like it was the simplest thing in the world, and Reeve realized with a feeling rather like being slapped that it was. Hospital rules and the bizarre desires of his child had made it all seem so complicated, but when those layers of red tape were removed it was just a matter of walking out the door. Well, that, and about three hours of explanations, which would of course need to follow a half hour of introductions.
Wait, Reeve said, stopping him with a raised hand. There are some people who are going to be going with us.
Mom? asked Tyler suddenly, his voice raising just a bit.
Reeve was taken aback. Tyler had never even mentioned the concept of having a mother to him before, and as far as Reeve knew, he had just as little idea of who she was as Cid out in the lobby. Um, no... he fumbled, friends of mine. Fighters. Theyre going to help us.
Us. Tyler said, and then giggled must uncharacteristically. As if its all centered on us. Hate to break it to you dad, but I get the feeling the wind is going to have more importance in this than we do. Oh well, chores are chores, a mans work is never done, now are we, in a nutshell, going to get the fuck out of here now or not?
Not even bothering to try to correct his sons language, Reeve nodded. Uh, sure. Have any stuff you want to pack? he asked on a whim, then instantly regretted it. Anything Tyler had brought into here with him he would have used up or outgrown long ago.
Huh. His son said, and Reeve had no idea if he was seriously thinking it over or just mocking the question in and of itself. Strait jacket, regulation issued toothbrush, six years of my life... no, Im good.
...ah. His father said slowly.
Paper work was never something Reeve minded horribly, but this was ridiculous even for him. He had been wrong about the just walk out part, as he seemed to be wrong about most things involving this hospital, because leaving involved a whole legion of dead trees with ink smeared on them to achieve. And a sore wrist. So, instead of the three hundred and twelve seconds it would take to get from Tylers room to the exit, it was actually over an hour and a half before he was even allowed to take a step outside his door. When he did, it was with a great sense of finality, and the sheer look on the boys face added a little hope to Reeves wish that no member of his friends or family would ever again come to a place like this.
They walked out together, into the lobby where they were being waited for, but didnt look at all as a father and son traveling group, or even as friends. Instead, they merely appeared as a pair of people who happened to be going in the same direction at the same speed, and had started from the same spot. Thusly, it was quite uncomfortable as the four travelers watched them approach, ready to be introduced quite stiffly and formally to the strange son of their friend.
Hiya. He said quickly, waving a quick hand of greeting, eyes pausing a moment to dwell on Tifa.
Hi... came their generally mumbled and delayed response, an unintentional rudeness, as they were all trying to get some kind of handle on the youth in front of them. It wasnt like they expected him to try to bite one of their faces off or anything, but he *was* here for a reason, after all. Besides, it was quite putting off to expect someone dark, serious, and quiet, and have them walk right up and vocalize the word hiya as if youd just shared a deep and intimate conversation the night before.
So. He said, either ignoring or simply not catching their temporary discomfort. I hear you have a suit for me.