Robert stacked his papers neatly and left the room. The hospital-hallway was crowded and loud, opposite of the temporary classroom. One of the most boring sessions the young man had ever experienced in his life, but after all the excitement that's ripped through his soul and mind recently, he needed some boredom in his life.
He ruffled the neck of his white coat to try to get some air on his hot skin. He allowed his mind to fall into a gaze, thinking of a cold drink of lemonade, or would coffee be better? Perhaps that's why he didn't see the other medical student walking, arms full of papers, syringes, and bandages.
They collided right into each other, paper flying everywhere and a few rushing doctors trying to get to their patients gave a quick wince before rushing off; they could take care of it themselves.
The young lady scurried to try to collect herself and her items, avoiding dropping everything, but she might as well have; the once organised clutter in her arms was now an unholy mess. When Robert looked up and saw the distress he had created, his soul was swamped with guilt and he carefully picked up syringes (which thank God they didn't shatter) and papers, muttering and blubbering his apologies.
"Oh! Madam, I… I am s-so so sorry! Please f-forgive me, I-I never intended…"
"No, no, it's alright, I shouldn't have… no, please, let me…"
"Oh, Heavens to Betsy! I'm truly v-very sorry, madam!"
"Be careful, that's sharp! Really, it's okay. Are you hurt?"
Robert looked up at the young lady and saw baby-blue eyes as bright as her spirit. Her ruby-red lips and curled brown hair complimented her beautiful clean skin and strong, yet soft, hands. Robert stared, and was oblivious to her own staring. His hair was slick back like he was still in high school and his eyes were a sparkling hazel with flare trapped inside, just waiting to be cracked open. He even had a small, very neat, mustache that the aroused young lady wanted to bite. She mentally slapped herself for that last thought and left her cheeks blush.
She stood up and flicked through her papers for any that her alien to her to hang back to the poor colleague. She did find some and handed it down to the student, who was on one knee in front of her with a few of her things.
"I believe these are yours, sir."
Robert blinked and tried to get his brilliant mind to work. "Thank you, madam." He took the papers back and gently handed some syringes and a few of her papers. "Here, I must apologise once more for my carelessness."
"Oh, again, it's quite alright." The woman replied and shifted the items in her arms. "I must get back to work."
She walked by him and Robert turn and watched her go. Unable to restrain himself, knowing he'd regret it if he didn't do it, he called out to her.
"Excuse me, madam. What is your name?"
The woman paused and turned around to look back at the handsome young man. She smiled and called back,
"White. Diana White."
She turned back and hurried to get to her destination. Robert watched her go, her cute figure highlighted in her little white dress. He smiled and thought to himself what such a wonderful name she had.
"Diana. Diana. Yes, I like the sound of it."
The main room of the once-prison for monsters was occupied by the Missing Link, watching a nature documentary on global warming, and B.O.B., who was helping himself to some of Dr. Cockroach's garbage. One man's trash is another man's treasure, but today it wasn't even a cockroach's treasure.
The largest door opened and Susan walked in and collapsed on the couch. By the giant window, Butterfly-a-saurus flew into her room and gave a loud roar in hello, a hello returned by Link with a wave and a cheery question.
"How was it?"
"Oh, we had a great time!" Susan answered. "Mom and Dad say hello, wishing you guys the best. Mom asked if we were eating enough, Dad asked if you had tried football yet."
"Actually, yeah." Link remarked, his small watery eyes still locked to the T.V. "It's okay. I think hockey is way better!"
Ginormica rolled her eyes. "Of course you do." She glanced over at B.O.B. as he digested cans, old shoes, rotting food, and newspapers, all moldy and germ-infested on the table. "B.O.B., isn't that for Doc?" She said with a light wince.
B.O.B. looked up at his giant friend and said, "Oh, hey Susan! When did you get here?"
"B.O.B., isn't that supposed to be for Dr. Cockroach?" Susan restated slowly and patiently.
"What?" B.O.B. asked, genuinely confused (as always).
"That garbage!" Susan strained, pointing at the table.
"Oh! Yeah, want some?" The jeleton offered, holding out an old soup can.
As a groan slipped pasted Susan's clenched teeth, the Missing Link incepted lazily. "Doc said he didn't want it."
Susan's frustrations died and he looked at the doctor's desk, at the farther end of the room and in front of a giant bookshelf, to find him hunched over holding his giant head over several papers, bottles of unlabeled liquids and things that sparked that littered the table. His face was hidden and his antennae seeped low, like they carried the weight of the world now.
Susan stood up and carefully walked closer to the cockroach. Usually bubbly, energized and full of enthusiasm, it was the first time Ginormica had seen her friend so depressed and silent., apart from mentioning that Halloween was dead to him, but that was just a mere frustration for a holiday. In the grand scheme of things something much more important than stolen candy was on Dr. Cockroach's intelligent mind. She can remember a time when he was there for her; she wanted to be there for him.
She sat down by the desk and spoke in a low voice to keep the other monsters out of the conversation. "Hey, Doc. Anything you want to talk about?"
"Like what?" Dr. Cockroach grunted on the wooden surface of his workspace.
Susan shrugged nervously and said slowly, "Well… you haven't eaten much and you just seem... low."
"I'm practically at the Earth's core, my dear." The scientist answered, glancing up at her with one huge eye. "But it is none of your concern, nor anyone else's."
Susan blinked, shocked and slightly hurt at the doctor's response, but her stare turned into a glare and she turned to the other two boys. Without warning, she picked Link up by a wrist and B.O.B. by his oozy dome.
"Alright you two, out." Ginormica said flatly as she carried the pair towards the door.
"What?!" Link yelled. "But I was just getting to the good part! That shark was just about to…"
"I'll buy you the DVD for Christmas." Susan snapped as the door automatically opened. She plopped the two down, turned around, and let the electric doors slam behind her.
Dr. Cockroach had kept an eye on the action, grateful that he was almost alone. It was most likely because she was a female monster, but Susan had always been more inclined to listen, even when others don't want to talk, and was a gentle giant. Yes, it was a nice change from nothing but males for almost fifty years.
"Alright, spill." Susan said patiently as she sat back down on the couch, her arms folded by the desk. "You know you can tell me if something's wrong."
"That I can, Susan." The mutant experiment gone-wrong replied, raising his big head up slightly. "I will give you that, but…"
There was a pause. Susan was patient and did not press forward. Dr. Cockroach laid back in his spinny-chair and rested his chin on a fist, making his lips pucker like a begging child, but his brow was down and his eyes were dull and in despair. He seemed to be planning ahead or doing some quick thinking, until he finally sighed and spilled.
"For nearly half a century, I had have been trying to escape this prison. Grant it, my attempts have lessen over the years, but tried as I may, I - obviously - never escaped. At the time, it was like pulling out my antennae or staying awake for days, waiting for something to happen. However, now…" Dr. Cockroach sighed again and looked at the glowing goop that decorated his workspace. "Now that I'm free, there's nothing to escape to."
Susan looked sadly at his friend with round blue eyes, trying to think of what to say, what to ask.
They may have known each other the shortest compared to the others, but they had a lot in common. Unlike someone who was born or made a certain way, or who never talked of how they felt, Dr. Cockroach and Ginormica both started as humans and had everything torn away by their own species. They both had family and friends lost by being thrown in prison as nothing less than innocent people. While Susan was blessed to get it all back, the doctor may have been too late.
"Did…" Susan breathed, hesitant to ask, but it clearly on his mind; he had to talk about it. "Did you have a family?"
Dr. Cockroach did not answer immediately. It was like he had shut down so he could think properly. Apart from his breathing and blinking, he did not move. Until…
"I had a wife." He muttered barely audible.
Susan's big heart cracked. A wife. She wasn't married, but Susan had a good idea of what Dr. Cockroach was feeling. All those years without contact or news… she can remember when she was first arrested by the government and how much she missed her now ex-fiance. Link would roll his eyes and B.O.B. would think he was supposed to miss Derek, too, but Dr. Cockroach was the only one that even tried to consult her. Now she knew why.
"You were married?" Susan said in a whisper as soft as silk, as if afraid the brilliant bug was now as fragile as glass. She rested her head on her arm and watched her friend closely with watery eyes.
"I was." Dr. Cockroach said in a low voice, emphasizing the "was" part with a hint of bitterness. He took in a deep breath with a heavy chest and went on. "She was beautiful, inside and out. She was kind and always stood up for people, even the likes of me. She was strong and always helping people, even if it meant neglecting herself."
His eyes were misty, like he could see her clear as day in front of him, sitting on the windowsill with her legs crossed, smiling and giggling.
Susan put her hand to her mouth sideways, a habit she had when upset, and whispered, more to herself than her mourning friend, "You miss her."
Dr. Cockroach blinked to see clearly, and by some miracle, no tears managed to shed.
His voice cracked. Last time he had said those words his voice had dripped with joy, so very opposite of now.
Susan used the middle joint of her pointer finger to wipe from under her eye and she sniffed as quietly as she could. "I'm so sorry. Have you… have you found her?"
Dr. Cockroach moved his eyes to look at her, but the rest of his body remained still as a statue. He gave a look of a mixture of boredom and agitation; perhaps it was a desire that the question had not been brought up.
"No, but in all fairness, I haven't been looking."
Susan blinked and lifted her head up slightly to save her aching chin. "You haven't looked for her?" She asked gently. "Why not?"
"Susan, darling, just think about it for a moment." Dr. Cockroach said sharply. Susan was, again, surprised by his directal crude attitude towards her, but what he said next made her ponder if he was answering a question he had asked himself before many times.
"When I was… when my experiment went wrong, I was arrested before she came home; she had no idea I was going to such lengths to find a hidden passageway by the Cold War. Did the government tell your parents what they were doing to you?"
Susan tried to recall if anything had been said, whether by her parents or the general, if they had any clue what was happening to their daughter after her wedding day. Then she remembered asking General Monger during her orientation if her parents or Derek knew where she was and he said "No, and they never will."
"No, I guess not." She answered, not having a better answer.
"Well, the likelihood that she got any information whatsoever about my whereabouts is roughly six-million-four-hundred-twenty-five-thousand-thirty-two to one." Dr. Cockroach said in a dark tone. "She probably thought I had been kidnapped, or ran away, or suspected of being a communist and dragged off. All she knows is that I was gone. What am I to do? Just walk through the front door and say, 'Darling, I'm home! What's for dinner?'!"
The doctor got on his feet and started to pace along the window that bridged the T.V. and the mini-laboratory. Susan's eyes followed Dr. Cockroach as he paced and ranted, fifty years of hurt and guilt bobbled inside, finally coming out.
"If she's as smart as I think she is, she would have moved on and remarried, but if she's as stubborn and determined as I think she is, she would have been… alone… all these years… and what would she say if she saw me?! Would she even want to see me?! I'm not exactly the same man I was when I won 'most attractive' in the high-school yearbook! And what if she's not even… what if she's… what if she's gone?" He finished with his fire extinguished.
"But what if she's still out there?" Susan asked and lowered her head again, her eyes swimming with tears once more. "What if you're right and she never moved on? Doc, I know it's scary, but you have to try. Wouldn't you give anything to see her again, even for a minute?"
"Of course I would!" Dr. Cockroach answered with shot-upward antennae and such determination in his eyes it was like he was insulted Susan would suggest otherwise.
"And I know there's never been a question you've never found an answer for!" Susan said boldly, blinking her eyes dry and sitting up straight. "And there's never been a challenge you've ever walked away from! If you can build a supercomputer out of junk and save Earth from an alien-invasion by setting a ship to self-destruct with dance, you can find your wife!"
"Of course I can!" Dr. Cockroach said boldly, chest puffed out, hands made into fits by his side, and his head held high, until he collapsed back into his chair. "But should I?"
It was like a balloon had been popped with a single pin. Susan's encouraging smile dropped into a sincere look, and she took note that is antennae was droopy again and his eyes were missing their spark. No matter how unsure he was about it, Dr. Cockroach needed to find his wife. At least then he'll have answers.
Susan gave a small nod and said solemnly, "I think you should."
The doctor looked up at her with his lips slightly parted as Ginormica stood up and gestured to the door.
"Come on, I'll help you look."