The doors to Centium City Hospital slide open and Oliver barrels through carrying Douglas. Kaz, Skylar, Bree and Chase follow close behind him. "Oh!" a nurse says, running out to meet them, glancing over their uniforms. "It's the, um, the Neat Force!"
"Actually we're the Elite Force," Oliver corrects her.
"Not the point," Kaz says.
"Hi," Bree tells the nurse. "My father got hit by one of those shapeshifters. He needs help."
"Right this way." The nurse leads them down a hall on the left and helps Oliver lay Douglas' unconscious body out on a stretcher. Some doctors start to wheel him away and Bree and Chase try to follow them, but the nurse holds up a hand to stop them. "As soon as he's stable, we'll come and get you," she says gently. "But right now they need to work."
Chase watches them cart Douglas away with one hand on his sister's shoulder, and it occurs to him that he doesn't hear Bree call him their father a lot. This might be the first time, actually.
He hopes it's not the last chance.
In the waiting room, Kaz feels restless. Being in a hospital just reminds him of the hospital he used to spend every day in. "I feel so... useless," he confides in Chase as the minutes tick by. "If Mighty Med were still around, I could do something. Not just for Douglas, but for everyone else who got hit by the swarms tonight."
"Not really," Oliver points out, looking up from the Highlights magazine he's been engrossed in. "Normos couldn't go inside Mighty Med."
"Well… well, that was wrong," Kaz says lamely. "Anyone who's injured because of a supervillain should get the right treatment, whether or not they're a superhero. We can't expect ordinary doctors to be able to help with this kind of thing."
"Yes we can," Chase says quietly. Kaz notices belatedly that he's gripping the arms of his chair too tightly and his knuckles have gone white.
"You're right," he says, ducking his head. Kaz can only imagine how he'd feel if that was his dad/uncle in there. "They're good doctors. They know what they're doing."
But what exactly was the treatment for a charged, concentrated blast from a powerful shapeshifter?
Bree can't stop pacing back and forth across the waiting room. With her super speed, she's literally starting to bore a hole in the floor. "Hey," Skylar says, grabbing her by the elbow and stopping her. "Douglas is going to be okay."
"You can't know that," Bree says bleakly.
Skylar frowns. "What if I told you that I used my time traveling ability to jump into the future and I saw that Douglas was fine?"
"You don't have a time traveling ability."
"Yeah, I was hoping you forgot that," Skylar sighs. Stepping forward, she throws her arms around her friend and hugs her tightly. "I know Douglas, though, and I know this team. He's going to be okay, Bree."
Finally, after what feels like ages, the nurse from before returns to the waiting room. "The doctors have done all they can for right now," she says. "You can go and see him, but it'll probably be a while before he wakes up."
Kaz, Skylar and Oliver all look over at Bree and Chase. Because even though they're worried too, they can see the divide. Douglas is their mentor and friend— but he's Bree and Chase's family.
Chase squeezes Bree's hand and the two of them follow the nurse down the hall.
Douglas looks incredibly pale and too, too still. Only now that he's lying in a hospital bed does it occur to Bree and Chase how animated he normally is. When he's on his feet, Douglas talks a mile a minute and gestures even faster, his hands always flitting around like crazed insects. Now, he looks like he's been frozen in a block of ice.
"This is all my fault," Chase chokes out, sinking into a chair beside Douglas.
Bree puts a hand on his shoulder. "I wish you would stop saying that." She sits in the chair beside her brother and reaches for Douglas' limp hand. "Douglas wouldn't want you to say it."
"Don't talk about him like he's already… like he's already…" He can't say it.
"I'm sorry," Bree says, leaning over and resting her head on his shoulder. The light pressure makes him feel a little better… but only a little. "We're going to figure this out, you know. We're going to be okay."
"Yeah," Chase says, fidgeting agitatedly. "I'm going to go get some water." He leaves, jostling her a little on the way out.
When the door swings shut, Bree scoots closer to Douglas. "Hey," she says quietly, holding his hand with both of hers. "If you were waiting for Chase to leave the room before you woke up… he left." She holds her breath, but nothing happens. "Just kidding. I know you don't blame him."
Douglas remains still and impassive, betraying nothing. His chest rises up and down— too shallowly, in Bree's opinion.
"I don't know if you can hear me," she says. "I don't know if you're even still… here, you know? But if you are… if you're in pain, if you're really hurting and you just want to let go…" She sniffs, letting the tears track down her face. "You can let go. It's okay. We'll be okay, and I'll… I'll make sure Chasey is okay, and Daniel, and Adam." She's full-on crying now. "You can go, if you need to go. It's okay. It's okay."
When her eyes are finally dry, but Douglas still hasn't opened his eyes, Bree gets up and walks outside. In the hall, she almost bumps into Skylar.
"Oh, hi," Skylar says. "Is it okay if I go in and see him? I'm just so worried."
Bree feels too dazed to give a real response. She just shrugs and mumbles something about going to get a Coke, leaving Skylar to slip into the room and see Douglas for herself.
The vending machine around the corner steals her quarters. Irritated, Bree glances around to make sure the coast is clear before she zaps the thing with her "flashlight hands." The light inside flickers a couple times, the buttons beep, and then her Coke finally drops down— along with a whole row of iced tea and Mountain Dew.
Bree shrugs and opens her Coke, using enough finesse to keep the shaken soda from exploding all over her. Drink in hand, she heads back to the waiting room, where Skylar has apparently rejoined Kaz, Chase and Oliver.
"Hey," Bree says. "Did you guys get a chance to go see Douglas?"
She's talking to Kaz and Oliver, but Skylar answers. "No, we were giving you space. If you're okay with it, though, I'll go in now."
Bree blinks. "What do you mean?" she says to Skylar. "You already… you were just…" Confused, she points down the hall toward Douglas' room. And then it clicks, for her and for Skylar. "Oh no."
Skylar and Bree superspeed to Douglas' hospital room and arrive just in time to open the door and see "Skylar" leaning over the bed, her hand splayed above Douglas like she's about to annihilate him.
"Get away from him!" Bree yells, charging up a proton ring and flinging it at the imposter. The girl flies into the wall but recovers quickly, straightening up and scowling at Bree. Before their eyes, she morphs into herself, a young woman with dark hair and fierce eyes.
"Who are you?" Skylar demands. Behind her, the boys catch up with them. Chase has his laser bo in hand.
"I'm Reagan," the girl says with a smirk. "And I was just finishing up what my sister started."
"You mean Reese?" Oliver asks, watching her over Skylar's shoulder.
Reagan rolls her eyes. "No, Rihanna." She squares up into a fighting stance. "Say goodbye to the old man."
"I don't think so." Kaz sidesteps around Bree and aims a burst of flame in Reagan's direction. But she's faster than him, and counters with her own plume of flames.
"You have fire-based powers too?" Chase yells.
"Yep." She redirects her fire toward Douglas, but Chase pulls her forward with molecularkinesis. Flustered and now trapped in the hall, Reagan doubles down and throws a fireball at Skylar, who redirects it. Scorch marks dot the wall. Chase runs in the room to make sure Douglas is okay while the fight continues in the hall.
Kaz dukes it out with Reagan, but you can only fight fire with fire for so long, and she's more experienced than him. Eventually, he starts to get worn out.
And then Oliver steps in. A well-timed blast of ice hits Reagan in the chest and she recoils. Before she can power up another fireball, Oliver shoots her with a jet of cold water. "This is a no-smoking zone," he quips, finishing her off with a huge wave of ice until she's completely encased, frozen.
In the aftermath, Bree, Skylar, Kaz and Oliver stand there in shock, exhausted and alarmed. And then they hear Douglas shout, "What the heck just happened?"
"You're okay!" Bree squeals, turning to see Douglas leaning on Chase in the doorway.
He hugs her and then turns to look at Reagan. "Is that a shapeshifter?"
"It was," Skylar says.
"Now she's a shapeshifter popsicle," Kaz grins.
Douglas leans closer to inspect Reagan and the mass of ice she's stuck in. "Sister, I've been there," he says wryly. "And I feel for ya."
When everything calms down, Skylar makes a call and a couple of men in capes and masks from the League of Superheroes show up to take Reagan away.
"Where is she going?" Bree asks.
"Mighty Max," Oliver explains. "It's a special prison for supervillains."
"Good job subduing her," one of the men says to Oliver. "You said she's related to the men who destroyed Mighty Med?"
"She's their sister," Kaz says. "And… there's something else. They infiltrated our files. The shapeshifters… they have the list of superheroes. And they're going to start picking them off one by one if we don't stop them in time." He frowns. "I'm sorry we couldn't keep the information secure." Behind him, Chase shifts uncomfortably.
"We know about the situation," another man tells him. "Crossbow has been keeping us informed… thanks to you two, I believe. She says you saved her life."
Oliver looks mildly embarrassed but Kaz beams with pride. "We sure did."
"Well done." The men take hold of Reagan, nod to Oliver and Kaz, and then teleport out, leaving the Elite Force alone in the hospital hallway.
"Good news," Bree tells her friends and teammates. "The nurses say they want to keep Douglas overnight, but then tomorrow he's good to go home." They smile; it's nice to finally have good news. "He says he's going back to Mission Creek to recuperate."
"Sweet!" Kaz says. "No adults. We can stay up late playing Wii Bowling."
"Uh, no, we've got work to do," Skylar points out. "It's great that Crossbow was able to get the word out to the other superheroes, but Reagan's got a lot of brothers and sisters we need to stop."
"She's right," Chase says. "We need to be on our toes, eyes and ears open. Until every shapeshifter is locked up in Mighty Max."
"And then," Kaz says, "we can stay up late playing Wii Bowling." They all laugh, but it's a little uneasy, because they all know what happens now.
The job's not done. The war's not won.
It's just getting started.