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Laughter Is The Best Medicine

by Dark Soul

Dark Soul And a bit of love doesn't hurt, either.
I haven't properly written fanfiction in a long time, but I'd like to make my return to the new and improved Creative Corner with the first chapter of something I started on for a special event on Tumblr. It's based on Monty Oum's series 'RWBY', but has an alternate universe setting, so no prior knowledge of the series is necessary, though you can look up the main character's names for visual reference if you like.

Future chapters will be posted here as soon as they're done, and will most likely be a bit longer and more in-depth than this one.

As always, comments and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated!

~~~

In a way, Weiss’ life had become nothing but a long play of light- The bright white lights of the corridor, the sickly green light in her bathroom- and sounds, like the beeping of monitors or background chatter of nurses and guests, which Weiss had long since stopped paying attention to. Light and sounds. Like endless reruns of a television show that no one would ever watch. It lacked meaning. There were no emotions involved anymore.

Six minutes and twenty-eight… Twenty-nine… Thirty seconds had passed since doctor Glynda had stepped out the door after asking for Weiss’ participation in a new programme that she was setting up. Weiss had accepted without asking further questions. Whatever it was, it couldn’t hurt. Maybe something would finally change.

Sometimes Weiss wished that whoever ran the trust foundation that was paying for her continued treatment would realize the futility of their effort. She would never get better. She would only ever get worse. Her own body couldn’t even keep her alive without the help of others- Was she meant to stay alive at all?

Weiss took a deep breath, or as deep as she could. Twenty-three minutes before someone would come to wheel her over to the dinner hall.

» «

'This is the last patient we'll be visiting today.' Glynda held her hand out towards the closed door. Through the glass pane she could already see Weiss in her bed, looking in front of her with the same blank stare she always had.

'Weiss Schnee, female, 20 years old, Caucasian. Patient is diagnosed with severe asthma; Average peak flow is at forty-five percent, respiratory effort is poor. Asthma attacks are life-threatening, but sporadic. Her asthma also results in slight arrythmia.' Glynda paused for a moment to allow the four interns to write down all the necessary information on their clipboard. 'The patient can walk small distances, to her bathroom and back, without assistance. For distances that are any longer, you'll require a wheelchair- I'll show you where to get those.'

'Now, onto her personal background. The patient has no known family members, friends, or aquaintances. Her medical bills are paid off by a charity foundation for chronically ill or hospitalized patients with no income of their own.' She pursed her lips. 'She's been here for close to nine months now, and the lack of social interaction has resulted in clinical depression. She doesn't talk unless asked something, not even with other patients. She's been seeing our psychologist for two months, to very little avail. She also shows little interest in food and she's been losing a lot of weight because of it.'

She once again waited for the interns to finish up their notes. ‘Keep in mind that while she might be your age, you need to be as respectful towards her as to any other patient. Be sociable when you can, but don’t expect her to engage in a full conversation. Now, are we all ready?’ The four interns nodded. ‘Good.’ She continued, and pushed the door open?’

» «

'Weiss?'

Weiss looked towards the door. Doctor Glynda walked in, flanked by four younger people dressed in white scrubs clutching clipboards. They gathered at the foot of her bed. ‘These are the people from the project I was talking about, Weiss, our new interns Jones, Narvaez, Free and Rose.’ The interns gave her a friendly nod and smiled at her, except for the one on the far right, Rose. She was a smaller girl, with black hair, the ends of which had been dip-dyed a deep cherry red. She tried to smile too, but her eyes showed concern and empathy. Weiss liked that a lot better than the ‘sociable’ smiles the other interns were showing. She didn’t bother to say anything back.

'They'll be helping the nurses with the care and research of you and some other patients, alright? You'll be seeing more of them for the next two months.' Glynda continued. Weiss nodded in reply. Her gaze kept returning to the intern with the dip-dyed hair, though she looked somewhere else whenever the intern looked back at her. 'Alright, Weiss, I'll see you at lunch.' Glynda said. She gave Weiss a comforting tap on her leg, and left with the interns in tow.

Something was different. The intern. The girl whose last name was Rose. Something about her presence, or the way she looked at Weiss had made Weiss feel something.

She didn’t know what the feeling was. But, for the first time in months… She had felt.

» «

Weiss found herself actually looking forward to the visits that the interns were going to pay her, at least if the Rose girl would be present. After their short first meeting, Weiss had tried to convince herself that nothing had actually happened, that the slight change to her apathy had been nothing but another spark of false hope. But when the intern came to her room again, stood by her bed and offered her hand, introducing herself as Ruby Rose, the feeling returned- And was perhaps even slightly stronger. She’d noticed how warm Ruby’s hand had been. Or perhaps her own hand was cold?

During that second meeting, while Ruby and one of the other interns scribbled notes about Weiss’ health and medication, Weiss tried to keep herself from staring at her too much. Part of her was convinced that looking at the girl would help her decipher what she was feeling. Weiss noticed new things. Ruby’s eyes were a light grey, and her face was lightly dotted with freckles.

Weiss didn’t say anything, apart from answering the questions they asked her. After almost a year, she was almost as well-informed as the nurses. She knew what the terms meant and how they related to her, which changes in her condition were worth mentioning, and which were perfectly normal fluctuations. It made things easier.

During the second check-up two days later, Weiss couldn’t resist commenting that she liked Ruby’s hair. Ruby simply smiled and returned the compliment, saying that she thought Weiss’ hair was great as well, that she’d never seen such a light shade of blonde before. For doctor Glynda, the compliment was reason enough to double-check if she’d been given the right dose of the right medication. When she knew everything was in order, Weiss thought she saw a slight smile on her face from the corner of her eye.

Even the three courses of the day that required Weiss to be wheeled out to the dining area stopped being as tedious, as the patients shared their lunchtime with the interns, and ocassionally the four would be present during breakfast and dinner as well. Ruby laughed and smiled a lot during her conversations with the three boys. She had a giddy laugh, like a young teenage girl. Somehow, even her appetite was affected; She found herself able to have a little more of her meals each time.

After three weeks, Weiss still had no clue why Ruby piqued her interest so much. She was used to friendly caretakers with smiling faces; What made Ruby’s so special? What she did know, was that she enjoyed each conversation they had. Weiss only wished that they could talk more often, not just during check-ups or short chance meetings.

» «

Glynda stood with four dossiers under her crossed arms, waiting until she was sure she had the undivided attention of all the interns. Once they’d all settled in their chairs and were looking at her, she spoke up. ‘I’ve decided on your long-term patient assignments. They can be prone to change in case of unexpected death or transferral, but don’t worry- You’ll get a blank slate for your next patient file if that happens.’

'Now, in case any of you didn't bother to read the assigment prior; You'll be doing check-ups exclusively on the patient that I have assigned to you from now on, instead of rotating shifts on multiple patients. The check-ups will also be more extensive, which means more work and more responsibility. You can work all the results into your documentation.' Glynda started to hand out the dossiers. 'Jones, your patient is Miller. Free, you get Delacreux. Narvaez, Farragut… And Miss Rose; Schnee. Now, please read the dossier carefully; It contains your new schedules, research method guides and the proper documentation format…'

Ten minutes later, the four interns made for the door of the meeting room. Glynda caught Ruby by the arm before she stepped through. ‘Miss Rose, you understand why I assigned you to Miss Schnee, I assume?’ Ruby smiled. ‘She seems to like me best.’ Glynda nodded affirmatively. ‘That she does. She’s been more sociable lately than I’ve ever seen her before, and I think it’s in no small part due to your companionship.’ Ruby’s smile faded a bit. ‘Maybe all she needed was a friend. Someone her own age.’

'Perhaps so… Could I ask you a personal favor?' Glynda asked. Ruby blinked in surprise. 'Yeah, of course.' 'If you happen to have a spare moment once or twice a day, could you visit Miss Schnee in her room? I'm hoping it might increase the positive effect you have on her mood and health even further.'

'Of course!' Ruby replied. 'Gladly.'
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  1. Dark Soul
    Dark Soul
    Chapter 02 is here!

    ~~~

    It was the next day, three hours, thirty-five minutes and forty-two seconds after lunch, that Weiss’ thoughts were interrupted when someone opened the door to her room. Not just someone; It was Ruby, looking a little less energetic than normal. ‘Hey!’ She greeted from the doorway. ‘Mind if I come in?’ Weiss nodded, trying not to look too surprised at Ruby’s unexpected appearance.

    'Do you need to do some tests?' Weiss asked as Ruby stepped inside and closed the door behind her. 'Nope, I've got those scheduled for after dinner.' She replied. 'I was hoping I could hang out. Y'know, chill for a bit.' 'Why here?' Weiss asked. She didn't want to sound like she was complaining, but she didn't quite understand what was happening, either.

    'Well, this is the only room where the window's open, since everyone else has allergens to worry about.' Ruby replied with a wink. 'A bit of fresh air's always nice.' Weiss cast her gaze down. Ruby sat down by the side of her bed. 'I'm kidding. How're you feeling, Weiss?'

    How was she feeling? For the most part, confused. Why had Ruby taken such a sudden interest in her? Weiss didn’t think Ruby was remotely as interested in Weiss as Weiss was in Ruby. Was it part of her internship?

    Was she even here out of free will?

    'Did… Doctor Glynda send you here?' Weiss asked. Ruby's smile turned apologetic. 'Yeah, Miss Goodwitch thought it'd be nice if I stopped by. But it's okay, I don't mind!' She added quickly. 'Do you mind?'

    'No.' Weiss answered right away. She looked down at her sheets again. She could feel her cheeks flush red, and hoped that Ruby wouldn't think much of it. 'I don't mind.'

    » «

    It took a week’s worth of visits for their conversations to stop being as awkward and timid as the first. Weiss discovered it was best to let Ruby do most of the talking, as she had a penchant for finding something new to talk about every time the conversation came to a pause.

    Though Ruby’s stories were often jumbled and she went off on tangents a lot, Weiss didn’t tire of them. Their conversations were, after all, a perfect opportunity to spend time with Ruby, and get to know her at the same time. Ruby seemed eager to tell Weiss all about herself and the things she experienced in and around the hospital. More than once, she had hurried out the door with a quick goodbye after glancing at her watch and seeing that she was supposed to be somewhere else already.

    Ruby wasn’t the first person to try having regular conversations with Weiss. The hospital’s resident psychologist had been trying for some time. Even her fellow patients occasionally still tried to talk with her, during lunch or dinner. The difference was that Ruby actually succeeded, and though Weiss was happy that she did, it bothered her that even she couldn’t compreherend herself. What was it that set Ruby apart from the rest? What made her so different?

    Unless, Weiss thought, the fact that Ruby was different was the reason. Ruby, the girl who’d dyed her hair a bright cherry red. Ruby, who took the time each day to hang out with a sickly girl her age. Weiss had never met anyone like her before. All she’d ever known were soft-spoken nurses and doctors with reassuring smiles. Ruby didn’t restrain her emotions, or give Weiss the silk glove treatment; She was her friend as much as she was her doctor.

    Her friend. That was what Ruby was. That had to be it. It explained why she felt strange about Ruby.

    She hadn’t had a friend in a long time.

    Weiss moved her legs off the side of the bed and, slowly, lowered herself to the floor, slipping her bare feet into a pair of warm fur slippers. Five steps was all it took to reach the window, which she opened up as far as she could.

    She squinted against the harsh sunlight. Whereas the sky was coloured peach and purple, as the sun was close to setting, the grassy fields and the enormous pines surrounding the hospital were different but equally soothing shades of green. A handful of people were walking over the tiled paths. Two nurses stood outside the employee entrance of the dinner hall on smoke break. Weiss hadn’t looked out the window for this long, or this extensively, for some time; The outside never changed much. Perhaps it didn’t need to. Weiss had experienced plenty of change in her own room recently.

    The weather would supposedly be just as nice tomorrow as it had been today. Maybe it was time to go outside again.

    » «

    Three knocks on the door broke Glynda’s concentration. She was almost thankful for it, as the reports she was reading were dreadfully boring as usual. ‘Come in.’ She called out, before taking a sip of lukewarm coffee.

    Ruby walked in and gently closed the door behind her. She looked a little less abudantly joyous than normal. ‘Miss Goodwitch, I, uh… There’s something I’ve been wondering about, and I thought I could maybe discuss it with you.’ Ruby said, as she stood shyly by the doorway. Glynda smiled reassuringly. ‘Of course, Miss Rose, that’s what I’m your instructor for.’ She replied. ‘Have a seat.’

    'How have your conversations with Miss Schnee been progressing?' Glynda asked once Ruby had settled into the chair in front of her desk. 'Good, I think!' Ruby replied. 'She still seems to… liven up a bit when I'm around.' Glynda raised an eyebrow. 'According to the psychologist's report, she's doing more than that. Weiss is… livelier than we've ever seen her. You're working some kind of miracle.' She commented. Ruby blushed. 'I like spending time with Weiss.' She said. 'But she's actually who I wanted to talk about. I'd like to know about her past.'

    Glynda’s smile faded. She had expected Ruby would have some questions sooner or later. ‘Are you sure that’s not something you’d be better off discussing with her?’ She said. ‘I don’t want to pressure Weiss into telling me about herself if she doesn’t want to.’ Ruby replied. ‘I don’t want to… Endanger what we have.’ Glynda sighed. ‘You have a good point. Still, she might decide to open up to you in due time, and I’d much rather you hear it from her.’ She drummed with her index finger on the side of her coffee mug. ‘I suppose I could tell you something about her early years, as she can’t recall those herself- Though she knows everything that we know, of course.’ She stood up, facing the bookcase full of reports that lined the back wall of her office. Her finger ran across tens of dozens of labeled folders, until she found the right one and pulled it out. She put it down on the desk, but didn’t open it yet. She knew most of it off the top of her head. ‘I have to warn you, though, Ruby. It’s not a happy story. It might change the way you look at Weiss.’ Ruby bit her lower lip. ‘If I want to be a doctor one day, I need to be able to stand a sad story.’ She said. ‘At the end of the day, isn’t it my job to make it happier?’ Glynda couldn’t help but smile. It seemed Ruby had more wisdom in her than people expected from her.

    'Alright, then. Weiss was found in the arms of a young woman who had collapsed on the steps of an orphanage…' She opened the report. Never could pronounce the name of the city properly. '… In southern Germany, 1993. It was in the heart of winter; The woman was a junkie. She didn't make it through the night. The baby- Weiss- almost didn't, either. It was clear that she had trouble breathing right from the start.'

    'Was the woman Weiss' mother?' Ruby asked. 'The truth is, we don't know.' Glynda admitted. 'She was never identified. She didn't carry any identification, wasn't known to the police, didn't seem to be on any missing persons list. Her origin was as mysterious as Weiss' own.' She explained. 'She was described as having dark hair and green eyes, though, versus Weiss' light blonde and blue, but that might not mean anything if Weiss took after her father.'

    'I guess that also means she doesn't celebrate her birthday.' Ruby said softly. 'She's asked us not to.' Glynda replied. 'But we pay a little extra attention to her during Christmas.' Ruby seemed lost in thought. 'It was snowing heavily, that night. It's where her name comes from- White Snow.'

    'Thanks for answering my questions, Miss.' Ruby said, as she rose from her seat. 'I won't take up any more of your time.' Glynda raised an eyebrow. 'Are you okay, Miss Rose?' She asked. Ruby nodded. 'I just… Feel like Weiss deserves a big hug.' She said. 'She's been through so much and she's still standing. It's kind of humbling.'

    'I look forward to the day that Weiss will hug you, Miss Rose.' Glynda replied smiling. 'It would do me good as well.'

    » «

    'And… cough again.'

    Weiss coughed. The disk of cold metal from Ruby’s stethoscope being pressed into her skin, just below her collarbone, made her shiver. ‘Alright, thank you.’ She put the stethoscope back around her neck. Weiss buttoned her top back up again. ‘Ruby?’ Weiss asked softly when the last button was done. ‘Hmm?’ Ruby replied from over the edge of her clipboard, on which she was scrawling notes.

    'When you come to visit me today, could you bring a wheelchair along?' She asked. 'I'd… Like to go somewhere.' That caught Ruby's individed attention. 'Go where?' She asked with a puzzled look on her face.

    Weiss pointed at the bright blue sky through the window. ‘Outside.’ She simply remarked.
    Apr 15, 2014