She checked the clock in the resident's lounge one more time. Seven more minutes until she was officially off the clock, though her work would continue well beyond that. She had so many notes to dictate and so many charts to keep up with that her work day may as well have been endless. And yet, it was a welcome distraction from the rest of her life, the likes of which had exhausted her both physically and emotionally over the course of the past month. She had heard that the second year of residency felt like the worst, but she never believed it until now. Between her own work and the many visits to her grandmother, it felt as if she hardly ever left the hospital anymore, but she had promised herself that today would be different. Today, she would act on her own behalf and do her best to take care of herself, whether that meant leaving her paperwork for the morning or skipping her near-daily visit to the rehab unit on the opposite end of the hospital in favor of a healthy meal, a hot shower, and full night's rest.

Half an hour later, her phone buzzed as she was finishing up the last of her notes. Nora shut her eyes for a moment when she saw the name on the screen and sighed as she reached over to pick up the phone. "Hi Dad," she greeted, the tiredness in her voice palpable to anyone who was within earshot.

"Honey, your grandmother really wants to see you tonight," said the deep but gentle voice on the other end, skipping any and all formalities.

There was something in his tone that Nora couldn't place. She took in a deep breath and let it out after a few seconds. "I know, I'm just finishing up with work." Her reply was terse. "I was thinking about coming by in the morning instead. I've been up for —" she paused as she looked at the clock again, but she could hardly do the mental math at this point and sighed. "A really long time."

"Nora," her father spoke. His tone had changed abruptly and he sounded much more brusque. She knew then not to argue with him. "She insists."

"I'll be there soon." She hung up quickly so that she couldn't be scolded or manipulated emotionally any further. Tired and frustrated, but mostly tired, she logged out of the charting software and shut the lid on her laptop so that she could pack up her belongings. She was exhausted and had been up for more than thirty-six hours at this point with only a short nap here and there to provide her with some relief. She felt selfish for wanting to skip her visit tonight and the guilt was gnawing at her. But then again, wasn't she allowed to be selfish sometimes?


The walk to the rehab unit was long. The winding hallways seemed endless tonight and their fluorescent lights were all the brighter. Eventually, she found herself standing in front of her grandmother's room. Nora took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment, as if that would help her center herself long enough to get through this visit.

"Nora," her grandmother beamed from her hospital bed as she walked into the room. She looked well-rested and, well, well. They had seen improvements in her demeanor over the course of the two weeks since the stroke, and she seemed more and more like her usual self by the day. The physical, the new limitations, the hemiparesis, that was another story, but the family knew that they had to take this all one day at a time.

"Hi, Grandma," Nora spoke. She hoped that the tiredness wouldn't show in her voice, but at this point, she wasn't sure that there was a way for it not to. She did her best to muster up a smile. She knew what these visits meant to her. "How was your day?"

"Great! I did a lot of exercise today," the older woman smiled. "Watch this."

Nora felt herself gasp as she watched her grandmother move her left arm, a first since she'd had her stroke. Though she did so somewhat feebly, she continued to raise her left arm above her shoulder and smiled brightly at Nora, excited for what this meant.

"This is the first time I've been able to do this. We practiced a lot today." She looked at the young blonde proudly, knowing that her knowledge of the human body would tell her exactly why this was such a big moment.

There was a lump her throat that was growing bigger and bigger by the second, with tears threatening to spill down her cheeks if she wasn't careful. And to think, she had almost missed this! "That's incredible," Nora finally managed to squeak out without letting her voice break. She smiled as hard as she could without letting the tears fall. "You deserve the biggest ginger ale that I can find."

Without saying another word and avoiding her own father's gaze, she stood up from the chair and rushed out of the room. The walk to elevator bay couldn't go by fast enough, and she violently jabbed at the down button as if it would make the elevator arrive faster and make her guilt dissipate all the more. Finally, a bell sounded and the doors opened.

She brushed the tears away with the palms of her hands and disappeared behind the elevator doors.


Charlie sat upright and felt as if she were choking on air. She gasped loudly and deeply, as if she were filling her lungs with air again for the first time in a long time, and it took her a few more moments to remember that she was still in Kitty's living room. After collecting herself, she turned to readjust her pillow and noted a few wet splotches that stood out in the light of the streetlamp just outside the window. Charlie shut her eyes and focused on her breathing. These anxiety nightmares weren't new to her in the least and she knew what she would have to do to work through them and calm herself down. When she had experienced them before, however, it was because of dreams and nightmares of her own, reliving that awful night at the building in Metropolis, the other awful night with the giant crater she had managed to create in the middle of Metropolis, all of it was hers. She had her own demons to fight and now, and now it seemed as if she had to deal with Nora's own inner turmoil, too.

This was new. Suddenly the things that Charlie had seen seemed to pale in comparison to Nora's struggles. What it must be like to have a family and all that it meant, it was all so foreign to her and she didn't have the coping skills or emotional capacity to deal with any of it just yet. She realized that her cheeks were wet with real tears and brushed them away with the palms of her hands. Charlie laid back down and burrowed underneath the blanket again, hoping for nothing more than dreamless sleep.