Day 037: Help For Tink
Summary: Tink and Reno drop by to offer help to Dr. K. End up getting help for Tink instead.
Date: 07/04/2016
Related: Letter to Cole Moonlight Sonata
Tink Reno Sarah 

Dr. Sarah Kirschenfeld's Office
The small office belonging to Dr. Sarah Kirschenfeld is remarkably cozy for a literal hole in the ground. There are a pair of overstuffed couches and two leather armchairs, occupying the bulk of the floor space.
Day 37

The small office belonging to Dr. Sarah Kirschenfeld is remarkably cozy for a literal hole in the ground. Right now, she is doing some paperwork while sipping mint tea at her antique wood desk. A black ceramic essential oil diffuser merrily spouts cool mist into the air, filling the room with the soothing herbal scents of lavender, mint and chamomile. Across the room, there are a pair of overstuffed couches and two leather armchairs, occupying the bulk of the floor space.

Reno was exploring and it was suggested to all of them after such a trauma, that they should go speak with Dr. Kirschenfeld. Curious Reno and Tink showed up, hand in hand, as inseparable as ever. The taller, bespectacled kid knocked on the door, and finding it slightly ajar poked his head in and nudged the door a little more open. "Umm, hi there. Hope we're not intruding?"

Sarah looks up from her paperwork. "No, it's… it's fine," she says quickly writing a few things with her grey marbled fountain pen. "Oh! You're the girl from the horticulture lab. The linguist." The doctor's face lights up with recognition.

Reno brightened a smile to the Doc and said "Yeah. Among her other prestigious and many talents such as pianist." He was unabashedly proud of those accomplishments and while Tink was modest, he was happy to extoll her breakthroughs. He said "Thank you for seeing us." It was polite but his endless curiosity brought him to take in the sum of the whole office detail by curious detail.

Tink shakes her head, "No…not a linguist, just someone that likes puzzles." She gives a shy smile, her hand firmly grasp in his. She gives a shrug, "Sadly that puzzle is not bearing fruit…I don't have enough inputs so I've asked your security if they had any recordings that I could listen to and try to decrypt." She pauses and then admits, "I'm learning to play the piano too." She gives a little shoulder nudge, "But don't be fooled, this one here is the genius. Anything electronic and he's a wiz." Yep, Tink is proud of Reno too.

"Is there something I can help you with? In the future, you can make an appointment by talking to one of the nurses," Dr. Kirschenfeld says, firmly but not dismissively. She caps her pen and places it carefully on a rack with its fellows.

Reno nudged Tink's shoulder back returning the squeeze of her hand in a aww thanks. The tech was earnest in apology adding, "Sorry. We didn't know. We um…" He was at a loss of words and finally said, "Thank you for talking to our friend Cameron." He didn't quite know how to open the conversation and looked to Tink. She was better with people by far and large.

"Yes, thank you for talking with Cameron," Tink adds with a smile, trying to show that she appreciates the doctor's work, "And…well we wanted to know if you could help us too." She looks to Reno to make sure he's okay with talking about himself, "Cause we have…" Tink wrinkles her nose and then tries to think of a way to say it, "We have things that might be helped by you too."

Sarah puts her paperwork away, standing up. The redheaded doctor wears a pale blue tunic and a brown cardigan over khaki pants — utterly sensible clothing. "Due to client confidentiality, I can't confirm or deny that I have spoken with any of your friends," she explains, heading over to a small cupboard by her desk. "Tea?"

Reno offered, squeezing Tink's hand, "Well in a hypothetical situation say someone like Cameron who is valued by us, were to be helped in a situation such as but not specifically lited to or necessarily involving speaking with you, we'd be very grateful. Strictly speaking." PURELY hypothetical. He blinked and admitted, "I haven't had tea in forever. Please. If it's not a bother." He bit his lip and admitted, "We're … curious about having more tools to fix things that aren't sorting themselves out." Pragmatic engineer was pragmatic and seemed grateful that Tink knew how to ask for help better than he did.

"Reno…she's not going to get the analogy," Tink teases her friend and gives his hand a squeeze, "I'll start first." She lets go of her friend's hand and then rolls up her sleeves to show the burn scars underneath, "When I was up there on the Ark, someone tried to sabotage me…to maybe even killed me. And the accident burned me so badly that I almost lost use of my arms." She lowers the sleeves and admits to her, "And before your men came and rescued us, I helped…well one of four that engineered getting the drop ship engines to fire and burn all the Grounders…I mean Outsiders. And the last image I saw when we got the doors open because they were melted shut was the charred remains of those I helped kill." She reaches out and takes Reno's hand again, "I don't sleep…not without Reno there. I sometimes can still smell myself burning and I wake up smelling burnt flesh. It's not something I want to keep happening."

"Please, take a seat, make yourselves comfortable. Let's start with first things first," the doctor says gently, filling two linen sachets with dried mint leaves. She sticks a small dowel through the tops of the sachets and rests them, suspended, over the tops of a pair of mugs. She sets a small electric kettle to boil and heads over to one of the leather armchairs, sitting down. "My name is Doctor Kirschenfeld. Most people call me Dr. K because my name is sort of unwieldy. You two are?"

Reno let go of her hand and was not unaffected by the telling. He fell silent and let her speak. She's needed to talk and he didn't have an answer any better than he's found so far to help her. He moved, with her, to sit and said quietly with a nod of gratitude, "Reno Loden, Dr."

"I'm Tabatha Imogen Nimue Kinsey, but most folks just call me Tink…cause that's my initials and I like to tinker, try to fix things," Tink tells her as she takes the seat that's offered, "I'm not sure what you can do to help…I mean, you can't explain why Bella, who I knew from diapers and was my best friend up until the point she tried to kill me did what she did." She gives Reno a glance, "You can't stop me from still loving her and feeling an this awful ache because somewhere along the line, I didn't see what she was doing." She curls up in the chair, "You can't take away that I killed all those people in the same way I was marked…so I know exactly what it felt like when I took their lives."

"My whole entire life, I've never wanted to harm another living soul. I just wanted to make the Ark better, cause it was sick. It was dying and I knew that learning to be an engineer could make a difference," Tink tells her softly, "I wanted to create, build and find my people something better. That's why I became an engineer. Not to build weapons of mass destruction." She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, "I want to help people…and right now, I'm just hanging out, resting. I get that I was traumatized." She brushes it off like it's a given, "That pieces are me are shattered and don't fit. They don't have to fit right now. But I'd really like someone to give me something to fix. Nothing big, something small. Just to keep my mind off stuff."

"You sound like you've been through a lot. Both of you." Dr. K nods slightly, picking up a green fountain pen and a small moleskin notebook. She jots down a few things, then looks back up. "Just so I'm clear, Tink, you're the one who is here to see me and Reno, you're here for moral support? Do I have this right?" She looks between the two of them. "Just so you are aware, anything you tell me is confidential, unless you are a threat to yourself and others, or know about somebody abusing a child."

Reno didn't comment or notate his experiences here. For him they mattered less than Tink finding words to speak her mind and ask for the things she needs. Drily he said to the Doctor, "I'm trying to avoid the people who abuse kids." He confirmed and denied not much else and thought about it with a shrug. "Let's just… worry about her for now." He wasn't one to ever try to overshadow Tabitha and to him her issues were things they could maybe do something about. Yay avoidance.

Tink looks to Reno with a look of concern, "You have a story too Reno…" But she doesn't press for him to share it. She turns to Dr. K and tells her, "I'm not a threat to myself…nor do I want to hurt anyone." She gives a look like that's just silly, "And I don't know any kids here…" So that nixes knowing about any abuse, "And if we're talking about me…I wasn't abused. I mean…my parents were great. My mom and dad used to love me a lot." She uses the past tense, "And I can't complain about my childhood. Things were pretty awesome possum."

"What I mean is that I have to report abuse of minors to the authorities," Dr. K clarifies. "It's kind of a standard spiel." She caps her pen and crosses her legs. "Reno is welcome to come and talk to me if he ever wants to. There's no rush, you know?" She turns to Tink. "So tell me. How do you feel right now, if zero is the lowest mood you can possibly imagine and ten is nonstop confetti and birthday cakes?"

Reno stayed quiet and just left his hand in hers trying not to think about the previous evening. He nodded at the clarification and said quietly, "That's actually really good of you." It was a new concept to him and from his expression, rather revolutionary. A thumb ran over the top of Tink's hand letting her talk without interruption. Even if he had things to say now was not that time. She was right. IT could wait. So long as nothing ever changed he could wait indefinitely.

"I think I'm a solid seven," Tink tells her with a smile, "Better than average but not without worries." She wrinkles her nose, "But I'm kinda a glass is half full kinda person. Most days, I rarely get below a five, and that's only if something really messed up." Tink gives Reno's hand a squeeze to let him know she's okay.

"So your mood is pretty okay. That's great," Dr. K replies, uncapping her pen and making a few notes. "So you came to see me because of the nightmares, mostly?" She taps her pen against her knee. "You said that you want something to do to get your mind off of things. What exactly do you mean by that?"

Reno shied a smile at her saying she rarely got down. It was encouraging and he gave her hand a squeeze back. Message received loud and clear. He said quietly, "Idle minds run wild. Busy minds run on a vector with clarity and direction propelled by the progress. Idle… we have nothing but time to feed our doubts and think on corrosive things that have happened instead of feel like we can build towards a better tomorrow." It was formulaic to him. His eyes through roamed the room trying to learn about the nature of it through observation.

"We like to work…I have a background in electronics, mechanics, chemistry and leatherworking. Reno's background is also in electronics and mechanics…and other stuff. You'll have to ask him. I…I am hitting some road blocks with the cypher, can't do much there so I'd like a new project," Tink tells Sarah with a bright smile, "I figured I'd work on the nightmares with you and maybe you could provide me…rather us with some advice on how to navigate this place because you're the resident head doctor and that means you're probably more aware than others how the social structure works here. So if I wanted to provide assistance of the tech sort, what is the best method in applying it?"

"Mind if I write that down, Reno? The part about running on a vector with clarity? That's beautiful." Quick jotting. Scribble. "Well, I'm not the head doctor, just so we're clear on that. I'm just a specialist," Dr. K informs Tink, canting her head slightly. "If you're asking me? I say you should take this downtime to work on you. You've been through a lot and need to process it and deal with it. Out there, you probably became used to your lives running on overdrive constantly, and now, stability probably seems boring." The doctor caps her pen again and folds her hands. "You have the rest of your life to work. Right now, you're given the opportunity to heal, both inside and out. Why not take that?"

Reno smiled modestly and said to the doctor, a bit touched, "I don't mind at all. If it helps someone out? Brings us a sense of peace. A better tomorrow doesn't just hand itself over, it's the reward of work and effort. I mean can't just help ourselves." The concept bewildered him. It just wasn't in their nature to think singularly. Maybe that's why they seemed to function better in tandem.

"Everything is a resource…the food you eat, the water you drink," Tink tells her softly, "When we take those things, we must give back. Just consuming without replacing is gluttony. It leads to sloth. It doesn't help fix what's broken." She points to herself, "I will be okay doctor, because not being okay is paralyzing and only causes a strain on others. And that is not what I do. I am not a burden. I help, contribute and build. If you remove those things from me…I stop being me. I am not something else, empty. Without purpose."

"Is that how things were on the Ark? A person was only worth as much as they could contribute?" Dr. K frowns. "Tell me, Tink. Who are you, outside of what you feel you can do for others?" She looks at Reno. "Can you answer that same question? Who is she, to you, aside from those things?"

At the question of how things were on the ark he quietly chortled. "were they allowed to contribute." Apparently there was some other thoughts on it, but he nodded in support of her comment. Who WAS Tink to him? How did he see her in a way that could be vocalized? He was quiet for a while and, sure, he was a bit self-conscious but admitted looking directly at the doctor because it was a little easier to explain that way.

"Being around her is like being a plant around sunlight. Sure you can put a lamp on things and try to simulate energy, UV rays, and photosynthesize. It's a sluggish and tedious thing and cells grow slowly. In real light they reach and are catalyzed in ways that change color, patterns, entire strains of their RNA to adapt to this vitamin rich environment in ways nature didn't intend and is left better off for it. She's like sunlight making things warmer and healthier where she gets to influence them. Light that makes everything else less grey and formulaic, but still making perfect sense. She makes me want to try even though every time the lights go out there's this sense of cold in my chest that fears they'll never go back on again and I'll be buried alive, but she doesn't do that. Because it matters to her and she doesn't let you feel obsolete or forgotten. She gives my brain direction so it's not afraid of things on all sides." He stopped and realized that his voice picked up a ramped intensity to it, because he got to talk bio-chem and Tink all in one thought. He stopped and went still.

"I…make things better," Tink tells her, giving Reno such a fierce look of care as he describes her to the doctor, "That's not something you can separate me." She reaches out to give Reno's hand another squeeze, "My father used to say that I'm a slice of genius with two helpings of hope. I guess that's what I try to do…imagine something better and then make it there. I don't want things for myself. Not really." She points to her scars again, "Once I burned…I stopped taking stuff for granted. I found something to make better every day. You see…I don't need much for me cause I'm part of a greater ecosystem and my part helps Reno…helps others. It's not something you can separate."

"Are you religious at all, Tink?" Dr. K asks, leaning forward a bit. "I've been informed there is not much in the way of religion among the Ark folk, but bear with me here. Maybe the reason you're here right now is to learn who you are when you're not giving. Find that stable, inner core and strengthen it so you can help people from a position of strength."

Reno bit his lip and sat quietly giving her hand a squeeze back. He was there for her, and he was proud of her even if his ears were turning red at actually talking about feelings openly. He wasn't really used to it, but he could brag the virtues of others in positive light all day. The question posed was an interesting one. He sat quiet giving it some deep thought.

"No…I'm not religious Dr. K," Tink tells her with a smile, "Got one opportunity in this world to make a difference." She doesn't seem bothered by that, "No higher power or mystical force like in that book Gilgamesh. Just us, people…trying to figure stuff out." She looks at the woman and tells her with quiet certainty, "And I do have a strong core. It's filled with love and hope and determination to make things better. That's what gets me up in the morning." She gives a half smile, "And every day I hear music that no one else does and it's beautiful, stunning and when I play it, people feel good. I feel good. But that music flows because I'm ticking and tinkering. It's just what I do. I am a Tinker."

"And no place in this universe is perfect…just doesn't work that way. Always something to fix. So let me help you for helping my friends doctor," Tink gives her a smile that speaks of generosity of spirit, "Let me help fix what's broken in the Mountain."

"What do you mean, you hear music that no one else hears?" Dr. K asks, keeping her face friendly and neutral. She does, however, discreetly uncap her pen. She notices Reno blushing and smiles. "That was very sweet and poetic, by the way, Reno. Tink is very lucky."

Reno looked to Tink finally asking, "Tabitha, what if the Mountain is perfect and we're what's broken now and we have to fix us?" Seems he had been listening, and likewise thought that highly of this place. He paused and dipped his head to the side, "Umm, thank you, Doctor." He didn't know about luck as he thought in matter of skill and opportunity on life's events. He was processing it though.

Tink pulls some papers out of her pockets, one is her notes on her cypher but another is sheet music and a it appears the teen is writing a soulful jazz piano piece, "Music…I hear symphonies…I think that's what they're called. I hear them in my head, write them out here and then sometimes play them. I'm still figuring out the playing piece." She lets the doctor take it if she wants, "It's my inspiration juice…I sometimes turn it off to listen to other stuff, now that Dr. Montgomery showed me some books and I've been listening to some records but it's still there.

"Reno…you're not broken, you're just a little beat up from life not treating you right," Tink tells him softly, making sure her friend knows he's okay, "You just need a little…vote of confidence."

"I wouldn't say the Mountain is perfect, Reno," Dr. K replies gently, "Nor that you are broken. I do think you have experienced stress unlike anything most adults here could fathom and you deserve a chance to rest before finding your place here." On the topic of Tink's music, she asks, "Does the music ever bother you? Drown out your other thoughts? Keep you awake or distract you from conversations?"

Reno shrugged halfheartedly, "Seems perfect to me. This place is everything we hoped to rebuild. It-" He had other thoughts on it but gave Tink's hand a squeeze. "it was a thought is all. You should hear her play though. It's… I didn't know pianos did all that."

Tink shakes her head at the doctor, "No…it's a good thing, not distracting at all. Just sort of buzzes there and only gets stronger when I'm working at the piano. Sometimes when I'm playing, it just flows…that's a good thing." She cants her head at the doctor, "And will we have a place here?" Tink does want to make sure that this help isn't a temporary thing. She gives Reno's hand another squeeze.

"Do you honestly think we'd take you in and then throw you out?" Dr. K frowns. "You have a place here. Right now, your job is to try and heal. Once the dust settles, we can start talking about where we go from here." She smiles at Reno. "I'd love to hear her play. Maybe some night at dinner?" She turns back to Tink. "Before we forget, tell me about the nightmares. Are they every night? Do they prevent you from feeling rested?"

THAT question of Tink's does seem to notably distress him. His full attention returned to the doctor who seemed a trusted source of wisdom. Curious eyes watched her weighing like the sword of Damoclese was dangling overhead. His fingers laced through Tink's. The consequences of not being able to stay seemed to paralyze his demeanor. Objectively he admitted, "It's happened before. Just not here."

"My people ejected me because I was no longer considered useful. None of us in the 100 that were sent down were even expected to survive because if they had thought the ground was livable…they would have sent another team first. Those were the words that greeted us on the way down here," Tink tells her with in a blunt, straightforward way, "So yes…I have been discarded before. I don't want that to happen again." She takes a deep breath and calms herself.

"Every time I close my eyes, I see them in the grounds, charred and bones. I hear them in my sleep, screaming as the flesh burned from their bodies. I smell the smoldering remains. I relive those moments when we turned on those engines and burned them to hell. I relive my own burning, the smell of my flesh burning, my hair scorched from my arms. The torment when your world explodes around you," Tink speaks matter of factly of the matter, "I've been on fire doctor. I've burned. I know the agony of having my flesh sizzle, my hair burn and the stink of charred flesh. I did that. I had a good reason…they were going to kill my people but I did it."

Sarah nods. "This isn't something that will go away. But this is something that, together, we can figure out how you can learn to live with." She pauses, furrowing her brow. "That was an incredibly awkward sentence. Anyway," she continues, "Right now, we want to focus on making you feel a little better so we can really work on that stuff. Would you be opposed to taking medication?" she asks, canting her head. "We have several options and modalities that work in different ways, addressing different parts of the issue. What you're experiencing has a name, Tabitha. It's called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I fully expect that most of your peers are experiencing it in one way or another." The redheaded doctor gets up and heads to her bookshelf, pulling down an old paperback entitled The PTSD Workbook for Teens. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is what happens when you experience something traumatic and you don't have the opportunity to heal properly. Think of it as an injury, like a broken arm." She hands Tink the book, along with a small spiral-bound notebook. The metal of the spiral spine is rusted, but the book is useable.

Reno watched and listened. He was either a whirr of thought and motion or still and thoughtful. Right now was opportunity to help Tabitha get a step closer to not being haunted. Quiet he asked, "It has a name? Well… what do the medications do? Will it go away over time? What's our expectation?" He absolutely did not let go of her hand. She was not alone.

"As long as the medication doesn't stop the music in my head or change who I am as a person," Tink tells her softly, feeling the strain of being so honest about the pain that is in her, "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? I guess I can read up on it if it helps." She takes the notebook, a little frustrated that she didn't get more information on how to fit in. Now she even has to check out this 'condition' but Tink isn't arguing. If the doctor can help her nightmares, she'll listen, "But this doesn't change…who I am. I'm still better at fixing than sitting. If you gets have something…let me know. I do want to help." It's that things that she says to herself again and again. The more she helps, the better she feels. She gives Reno another squeeze…going first was much harder than she thought.

"Medication never changes who you are as a person. That is a centuries-old myth that I wish would go away," Dr. K explains. "If you were my daughter, I would suggest you start taking a class of drug called SSRI — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. They are most commonly known as antidepressants, but they have other uses, and PTSD is among them. This is something that will take a few weeks to build up in your system, so you won't notice effects right away. Another option is a mild sedative to help you sleep at night. Poor sleep is likely exacerbating everything else. The two can be used together with no ill effects. I would actually suggest taking both for the first week and then just the SSRI afterwards." She sits back down, clasping her hands. "Maybe down the line you'll be doing well enough that you can stop taking the medication — using the injury metaphor, it would act like a splint for your broken bone. However, it may end up being something that you use for longer. Everyone is different."

Reno looked to her and wiggled her arm from shaking her hand. Supportively he reminded, "Hey, you are making things better. Always. Just happens naturally, don't forget that. B'sides, if this is what we need to do to earn citizenship we can do that. We have to allow them the chance to care about us too." He paused and said "I'll let you know if you become un-you."

Tink sits there uncertain, the sedative isn't scary but the inhibitor…she looks to Reno and as he encourages her to give it a try, "Okay…I'll try both like you offered. But I do reserve the right to stop if…if it changes me." Yeah, the doctor claims it's a myth but the teen is still weary on taking it. "So just the drugs? That's going to 'fix' things?"

Sarah shakes her head. "No. The drugs are a tool, just like everything else. Therapy works on changing how you think. The medication works on a brain chemistry level. The two work together to help you heal." She gestures toward the book. "The book will give you an idea of the kind of questions we're going to work on together. The notebook is for you. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, write in your journal. You don't have to show me or anyone if you don't want to. And of course, no one will force you to take this medicine if you don't want to."

Reno looked to Tink. It was a lot to decide on. He offered, "At least you're controlling the trajectory of your optimization. Reestablishing a baseline to adjust frequency to to reestablish rhythm?" This kid might have been raised by a textbook truly.

"Okay…I'll give it a try," Tink tells her, still not completely okay with this but she's willing to approach this with an open heart, "I'll take the drugs just to re-establish the baseline. Once the nightmares stop…I'm going to stop taking it." Clearly she's goal setting now, "I'll be fine then." Okay, decision made. She looks to Reno to make sure there's nothing he wants to discuss because she's ready to get out of there.

"That’s not exactly how it works. You have to taper on and taper off. Once the nightmares stop, we'll have a discussion about what we're going to do next," Dr. K explains. "One of the pharmacy techs will get your medication to you, complete with instructions. Come to me with any questions, okay? And we'll start our work at your next appointment." Sarah realizes the teapot never whistled. She turns around and sighs. "Forgot to plug the kettle in before turning it on. I swear…"

Reno picked up on Tink's threshold for new-scary things and feelings getting to the point of being met. Did he have things he could discuss? At length but it became quickly secondary to him. He offered to her, "Let's start there. We can follow that with the piano and I can put sandwiches together if you want?" Food was good and the piano seemed to help her transcend worry and reach that part of her that was in harmony with the universe. He viewed it as a safe place for her to regather her thoughts and feelings and would facilitate if he could. Turning to the Shrink he said, "It's really thoughtful of you to take time for us. Really."

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