Doctor Aki Yoshida stopped at the infirmary door, watching while the nurse, Rubia, checked the patient's condition. As PTSDs goes, this was one of the most challenging cases the woman had since leaving Earth behind and coming to the Citadel almost fifteen years ago.
When Rubia finished checking the girl up, Yoshida stepped back and asked for a status report. "So?"
"We're keeping her lightly sedated for the moment, as you suggested, and as she refuses to eat, there's no other choice other than to keep feeding her via IV," she sighed tiredly. "I still can't believe she would throw herself against the wall like that. She fractured her shoulder before we got a hold of her…"
"The other kids are terrified of her…" Yoshida mentioned, massaging her own head. The throwback of the girl's tantrum left her busy the whole day.
"Do you think she's dangerous?" Rubia asked wide-eyed.
"No, I saw the security vid of what happened and she had an opportunity to hurt others, but her actions were calculated to only inflict harm to herself instead." She explained. The nurse didn't seem really convinced, but that wasn't important. "I was alerted about an incident here this afternoon…" the psychologist prompted.
"Oh, yes! That…" She seemed uncomfortable. "It was nothing major, but I was talking to her, trying to soothe her while hooking her up to the IV and I made the mistake of saying her name, said it was a pretty name, and she flipped on me, crying out that she was Shepard, just Shepard."
"And… you just said her name?"
"Yes, you know, Jane Willow is not a very usual combination, but I thought it to be cute, so…" she shrugged at a loss about what else to say. "When I started calling her by Shepard, she calmed down…"
"That's odd, but I should probably warn the others, nonetheless…" she muttered, seeing the nurse nod. "Anything else?"
"No, ma'am; nothing of notice. She's been apathetic ever since the pain medications kicked in…"
"Alright, thank you, Rubia." The doctor said, entering the room and sitting in the chair beside the bed.
The girl had arrived at the Citadel a bit over a month ago and spent most of that time under medical care. The first two weeks had been to recover from the injuries she received during the attack at the Colony: she had a dislocated shoulder, the Tibia had a tiny fracture, and her hands had smashed Phalanges, and Metacarpals severely damaged. Up till a few decades earlier, she'd be debilitated for several months before her bones could recover, but, since finding the Prothean data cache on Mars and joining the Citadel species afterwards, the miracles of modern medicine and the usage of nanotechnology now allowed such injuries a fast healing.
Not that it mattered as long as the girl kept inflicting new injuries to herself, refusing to cooperate with her own recovery.
Despite being asleep, the kid still seemed to be restless. She looked tired and malnourished and was covered with contusions and abrasions on her hands, arms and legs. If the woman didn't know any better, she'd think the kid was getting daily beatings at the Orphanage. It was a rather self-destructive behaviour the girl was exhibiting.
Yoshida understood survivor's guilt; both in a theoretical and a personal level, but her work required her to keep a professional distance, what didn't seem to be reaching any actual result.
The girl barely exchanged two words together with her or anyone at the Orphanage. So, maybe, the answer to this very case specific would be a more personal touch, she considered, holding the datapad she brought with her from her room tightly against her chest. It's a long shot, perhaps even wishful thinking, but maybe it would help this child just as it's helped me after Mikio's death, the doctor sighed, looking up to find two green gems staring at her.
"Hello, Shepard, how are you feeling?" She inquired, seeing the girl turn her eyes to the ceiling with a pained expression – she suspected, however, that it had nothing to do with physical pain.
"Fine," answered Shepard with a tiny voice.
Yoshida maintained silence for a few minutes, waiting; if the girl wanted to say something, she'd be there to listen. She wasn't holding her breath, though. They'd been there, done that. It couldn't continue. The girl needed to move, or be moved by something.
"I brought you some reading material," she said with a quiet voice. It still startled the girl, but Yoshida was satisfied that the Shepard kid at least looked at people when spoken to. "Do you know what a Manga is?"
"Yes," Shepard nodded.
"Have you ever read one?"
"No," she answered and looked away, mildly uninterested.
"I'd like you to read this one," The doctor turned on the datapad and showed it to the girl. "It's called Fruits Basket; it used to be my daughter's favourite manga."
She refrained herself from mentioning that it'd helped her after said daughter passed away. Every mourning process was unique and people going through it don't like having their pain measured and compared to that of others. The story in question was actually an emotionally charged story that dealt with many degrees of mourning by many characters. Reading could be a way for people to allow themselves to show emotions and grieve without reserves.
Shepard turned to face her again with a deep frown. "It's a silly title."
Wow! A full sentence. We count our wins where we can, the doctor allowed herself to briefly smile, before continuing. "This is a classic. Early 21st century."
"I'm not interested," Shepard shook her head and looked back to the ceiling, ending the conversation right there. Yoshida knew that routine already. From now on, the girl would not say anything else, no matter how much the doctor pried.
"I'll make a deal with you," she stated, getting the girl to give her a sideways look. "You read this and, while you're reading it, you won't need to talk to me at all. About anything…"
Shepard looked at her, considering the proposition for some minutes. "And after?"
For someone whose actions seemed to imply a high disregard with the future, such a question gave the doctor some measure of hope. To count our victories where we can, indeed.
"Well, after that, we'll see…"