Remote checked in and settled in The Highlander, one of many prestigious hotels who catered the remote check in ability, Lightning finally set Fang to a bed and started her immediate care. Lightning went to the bathroom and pulled the nozzle on hot. She called up room service and ordered vegetable soup, hoping Fang might be able to stand the broth and absorb some of those nutrients. When she returned to Fang, she stripped her and tried not to wince at how painfully small she seemed. Worse, Lightning finally observed her arm in full clarity. The whole square of skin over Fang's tattoo had been crudely scraped off and then scratched over again. It wasn't healed; it'd barely even scabbed in spots, others fresh as the day she'd received them. Lightning had to fight for the minute not to lose it.

Fang had cut her tattoo straight out.

She had other injuries, though none as severe as the arm. Bruises over her kneecaps and slight bleeding on the right suggested repeated falling while the other, big patch on her thigh mystified Lightning. A few existed around her stomach and, to Lightning's great worry, at her elbows where needle pinpricks marked the direct insert of drugs to her bloodline. Lightning hadn't thought of Fang with a needle, but it made sense if she wanted to feel the drugs more directly. Lightning could only imagine what she'd pumped into herself.

Lightning had to care for that arm first. She tucked Fang from the bottom half down under the covers and propped her at a slant on pillows. Stopping in the bathroom, Lightning fetched the first aid kit all high-end hotels had these days and filled a small bowl of warm water. She turned off the steaming tub and returned to Fang with the materials. Putting the first aid box on the counter beside her, Lightning scooted onto the bed beside her and dipped the cloth into the water. Fang stirred when she pressed it to her injured arm and almost mumbled, but didn't wake. Lightning withdrew the cloth without rubbing it, re-dipped it, and placed it again on another spot of the injury for warmth and cleansing. Fang hadn't kept very cleanly in her wake.

Lightning watched her face when she touched her. Fang stirred every now and then and her eyes moved rapidly under the lids, as if in dream, but it wasn't enough to pull her out of state. Not nearly enough, Lightning would wager. There was no telling how Fang would be when she woke up, and so Lightning was grateful for small favors in her rest. She needed it too.

Room service came a few minutes after Lightning finished dabbing the wound with a warm cloth, picking up the outermost layer of dirt with her tender touch. She thanked the woman and set her off, wondering if she should soak the injury next. Lightning put the soup on the counter and decided to press the dishcloth one more time, a little harder and a little longer, but she still didn't rub. When she removed the cloth, Lightning unsnapped the first aid and pulled out a bacteria cream for what looked like the obvious infection. Red around the edges, unhealed, bubbly and scratched, that wound would've pained anyone in half Fang's state of mind. It would sting when she dabbed it, Lightning knew. She hoped Fang wouldn't wake. Not yet, at least. Not in this pain.

Lightning swabbed the cloth through the disinfectant cream and gently reached out for Fang's arm again. Keeping hold of her forearm to stop Fang from twitching, Lightning pressed it again to Fang's open injury. Fang murmured something loudly and half turned away, but Lightning held her firmly so she couldn't squirm. "Please," Fang mumbled, trying to pull her arm away, "Please."

"Shhh," Lightning hushed softly, applying the cream. "Fang, shhh. It's okay. You're okay."

Fang settled back into place at her voice, protests dropping to merely become twitches again when Lightning dabbed. It took several long, tentative minutes, but Fang dipped back into deeper slumber as she went, for which Lightning was grateful for now. She finished swabbing the wound and took out some gauze from the kit. Careful not to wind it too tightly, Lightning wrapped over Fang's injured arm with the gauze. She'd have to mention that to the nurse when she came.

Scooping Fang up once again, Lightning tried to ignore the cruel reminder that she could carry her. She'd never been able to carry Fang like this. She carried her into the bathroom and kneeled beside the tub. Lightning gently eased Fang into the steaming water. Fang stirred, but still didn't wake, prompting Lightning to check her pulse again just to be sure. It was there; faint, but there.

Taking the soft sponge and soap to her body, Lightning bathed Fang. She stroked her skin with a gentleness known only to a lover, cleaning Fang of the grit that had built up over days unwashed. Not all of it would come off; not all of it was dirt. Bruises plagued Fang's skin like a fresh disease; Lightning didn't know how she'd have gotten some of them if they weren't self-inflicted. Keeping her wrapped arm up on the ledge, out of the water, Lightning ran the soapy sponge across Fang's ravaged skin. She'd never seen anyone look this bad, this thin before. Her arms had shrunk enough to rival Serah's. Lightning's heart cracked a little more with every careful spot she cleaned, and when she leaned Fang forward to rub her back, she had to look away and brace herself before willing her eyes back again. The bones of Fang's back protruded like grisly branches on a dead tree.

Lightning eased Fang back again, but didn't pull straight away. She stared into that pretty face, sallow and pale, but still Fang. Still Fang.

I did this to her, Lightning realized, lifting a hand to Fang's cheek. Her fingers barely grazed the shallow skin of her cheek. She had done this to Fang; hadn't even listened when she'd tried to plead…

Lightning looked down, pulled back, stomach churning sickly. A knock came at the door. Lightning situated Fang so she wouldn't slide, then got up to answer for the nurse to come inside.

Time passed faster when Sophia arrived. After taking one look at Fang, which Lightning hesitated to show in her naked state, Sophia went straight to work on taking professional care of Fang. She had Lightning lift her from the tub to lay back on bed and checked her body. She hooked Fang up to three different IVs, one of nutrients, one of water, and one of blood, which helped Lightning's fears little.

"She's lost blood?"

Sophia nodded as she went about checking Fang's blood pressure and body. Lightning knew she was just doing her job, but she wished she didn't have to touch Fang so much. At least Fang was still asleep. "When the body becomes malnourished or underfed, injuries become more common and less easily healed. Any blood loss she's had, the effect would be magnified as if doubled or tripled. She needs all the nourishment she can get right now just to function. I'm checking her levels now."

"What do you make of the bruises?" Lightning checked.

"I can't account for all of them," the nurse explained, "But at this stage of starvation, even the smallest of strikes can cause severe internal bleeding or contusions to form. Her bones have lacked nutrition for quite some time and may be less dense as well. We have to be careful." The woman glanced at her statuses. "Shit."

"What's wrong?" Lightning asked quickly as she started pulling things from her bag.

"I thought this might be the case from what you described," Sophia explained, pulling a long tube from the bag along with other contraptions Lightning couldn't all identify. "Hold these," Sophia said, handing her some of them. "She needs gastric lavage."

"What does that mean?" Lightning asked, heart starting to pound faster as Sophia hooked more machinery up.

"Stomach pumping," Sophia said simply, letting Lightning piece together the purpose of the tubing and the funnel suction herself. "She's taken in too much alcohol. If it clears her digestive tract before it opens, she'll seize. I'm amazed she hasn't stroked already." Sophia looked up at her with important, dutiful eyes. "Are you ready?"

It was horrible. Sophia wouldn't give Fang any sleeping agents because she had too much junk in her system already. By the grace of whatever divinity existed out there, Fang didn't wake. Not really, anyway, but she did throw up in a sort of partially-awake-delusional-stint that lasted about a minute before she passed out again. Sophia and Lightning suctioned it from her until there was nothing left in her stomach to pull. Fang moaned in unconscious misery as they pulled the tubes from her throat cleanly free and Lightning took out her vomit. By the time she'd returned, Sophia had re-checked all of Fang's vitals and was tucking her under the covers.

"She's warm," Sophia said, indicating Fang's forehead, "But that's normal. Unconscious or not, she felt that too. We need to keep her warm, hydrated, and preferably unconscious. Her drug-toxicity levels are still dangerously high. If she does wake up," Sophia nodded to that soup bowl still on the counter, "It'd be good to get something in her, but she must go extremely slow. The stomach is especially sensitive after a pumping. I'm going to set up her charts in the other room. Alert me immediately with any changes or if the monitors change beeps."

"Okay," Lightning agreed, thankful she had hired the professional over to monitor Fang. Sophia left the room to the side one connected to it. Lightning situated in the bed next to Fang. Though the vomit and contents had all been caught in the suction and tube, but Sophia must've wiped around Fang's mouth when she took it out because that was clean now too. Lightning sat next to her and watched for another while before lowering her head, heart heavy with this poor condition of Fang's. Nothing could change the fact that she'd put Fang in this state.

The corner of Fang's bandage caught Lightning's eye again. It'd been rewrapped by Sophia, probably to take a look at it, then closed up again. Lightning lifted a hand to the lifted edge of the wrapping. She pressed it back down to Fang's skin gently. Fang released a quiet moan and rolled onto her injured shoulder. She reached out and grasped Lightning's forearm, then settled back into her slumber again. Lightning lowered her eyes once again, shamed. Fang held tight and didn't let go.

Lightning didn't know how long she sat there with Fang grasping her forearm, but it seemed long hours before that grip tightened. Lightning glanced up in surprise, seeing wide, scared eyes on her. Her heart jerked. "Fang."

"No," Fang released her, quickly panicking. "No, no, no, no," Fang started backing away on the bed, "No, no…"

"Fang, wait!"

"Leaving," Fang mumbled in a broken voice, turning on all fours to crawl away. "Must leave."

"Fang, no," Lightning grabbed for her and caught her lower arm. Mindful of how much pain she must be in, she tried not to put her in too tight of a grip. Fang pulled out of it surprisingly easy and tumbled right off the other end of the bed.

"No, no, no…"

"Wait!" Lightning called after her as she pulled the IVs taut in her escape. "Don't go." Lightning clambered over half the bed to see her again where Fang had stopped, sitting on her butt, braced on her arms. Lightning heard the door to the second room open behind her. Fang looked at her with wide eyes, then looked at the machine hooked into her arm of IVs.

"Gotta go." Fang repeated, starting to pick at the tape over the IVs.

"Fang, stop it!" Lightning tried ordering in a stronger tone. Fang stopped until she went for her to fix the IV. Then she curled away in a ball.

"Don't touch!" Fang yelped, scared. "Bad touch. No."

Lightning held up her hands. "I won't touch you then, Fang. Just get back on the bed."

Fang looked at her, to the bed, and to the door behind her. She gazed back to the bed and finally started to pick up again. "Okay," she climbed back into bed, moving around Lightning to get there before she ducked under Lightning's arm and sat rightly on the bed. "Ready." Fang said, lifting an arm to scratch at her injury.

"Don't do that!" Lightning barked, half in fear of Fang further hurting herself. Fang froze and looked at Lightning, then at her bandaged arm with wounded eyes. She picked at the edge of the wrapping curiously like a child.

"Scarf… " Fang picked at it. "Scarf on my arm, who…"

"Fang, stop picking," Lightning half chastised, half pleaded, wanting to reach out to take her hand and stop her.

"Itchy." Fang rubbed at it again. "Don't want."

"Lightning," Sophia called quietly. Fang startled at her voice and looked to the doctor, alarmed and scared.

"No," Fang started mumbling again, "No, no, no, no," she took the blanket and hid under it. "Leave me alone!" Fang's neurotic mumbling continued. Sophia waved Lightning over, who hesitantly left the shaking, mumbling woman under the covers. Sophia whispered to her when she was close enough.

"She's listening to your commands," Sophia whispered quietly. Lightning wondered if Fang could still here and motioned for more quiet. Sophia nodded and tilted her head towards the bowl on the dresser. Lightning nodded in understanding.

"Fang," Lightning spoke sternly, returning to the lump under the blankets. "Come out from under the blanket."

"No, no, no, no, no," Fang mumbled.


Fang paused, wriggled one last, then popped half out from the blankets. "I'm sorry," Fang looked down at herself and squirmed to cover her deflated breasts with the blanket. "Sorry, sorry, don't look, no…"

"Fang, I want you to drink your soup." Lightning ordered just as firmly, looking to the bowl on the counter. Fang followed her eyes.

"Soup?" She sniffed the air, detecting it, and hovered over. "I like soup…" she sniffed again, lowering closer to it, then froze again. "No… no, no. No soup. No soups."

The door handle rattled, followed by a shout. "Let us in, Lightning, or I'll break down this damn door."

Fang's head rose quick as a bullet. "Daddy?" Her wide eyes grew scared, fast. She started burrowing. Lightning hurried to the door and unlatched it before Jaeger could kick the flimsy thing in. She found the woman readying to on the other side of the door to kick. Lightning fully barred the way for a moment in warning.

"She's high," Lightning was all Lightning managed to get out in time, "And weak."

"Where is my daughter?" Jaeger demanded, grabbing Lightning by the front of her shirt. Lightning glanced back over her shoulder to the small lump Fang had curled to under the covers in the middle of the bed. Jaeger roughly shoved her aside and hurried in after her daughter, followed by Anya and Summer. Lightning couldn't watch as Anya's voice hitched in outcry, supposedly at the sight of Fang. Weeping and tears followed. Lightning quietly closed the door to mournful outcries of Fang's name while the scared girl tried to back away.

"No, no parents!" Fang tried to squeak, "I have no clan!"

"Fang," Anya wept.

"Mommy. No. Not here. Not here, mommy!"

Summer calmed her with soft words as Anya fought to control herself. Even Jaeger couldn't stop saying her name quietly in horror, shock, and awe. Lightning rested her head to the door and closed her eyes. She wished this could end better.