Disclaimer: See chapter's end.
For Kayasuri-n, a great writer, a source of inspiration, and above all else, a wonderful friend.
Chapter One: Onset of Symptoms
Robin surveyed the aftermath. It was a good thing Jump City hadn't started charging the Titans for property damage. Yet.
But then, there was little help for it. Cinderblock was never the type to submit to justice quickly or quietly. The battle had been long and arduous, and the damage quite extensive. In particular, the storefronts along Central avenue had suffered catastrophic damage, with numerous windows and displays wrecked. Finally, after an arduous struggle, Starfire managed to subdue the monstrous criminal, by striking him over the head with a streetlamp.
The Titan's leader shook his head and turned to regard the rest of his team, assembled on the sidewalk behind him. They were battered, bruised, and tired, as was the norm following a confrontation with Cinderblock. Cyborg's mechanical portions were noticeably scratched and dented, Starfire's was nursing a nasty abrasion on her arm, after being thrown to the pavement in the struggle. Raven's cloak was tattered and torn, and several purple bruises, all the more noticeable given her gray skin, were forming on her legs. Fortunately, the half-demon could heal herself and the others later, using her powers. Beastboy seemed to be the worst off. He was seated on the pavement, holding his head in his hands, with his eyes tightly shut. It was quite possible he had taken a blow to the head, given his propensity for recklessness in a fight.
"Well, that was fun, wasn't it?" Robin quipped.
The respondent glares from his fellow Titans showed how much his attempt at humor was not appreciated.
"Anyway," he continued, "I think we're done here, now. Let's head home. We can all pile into the T-car, so no one has to fly. Raven, think you'll be up to some healing once we get back to the tower?"
She nodded wearily.
"Let's move out, then."
Cyborg shuffled off towards his vehicle, with the ladies following close behind. Beastboy, however, remained seated, still resting his head in his hands.
"Beastboy? You ok?"
The shapeshifter didn't respond to Robin's query.
"Beastboy, what's the matter? Were you hurt in the fight?" Robin tapped him on his shoulder, and Beastboy raised his head,seemingly startled. Robin noted that the young man's eyes seemed to be dull and unfocused.
The green boy spoke haltingly. "No, Rob, I'm... just feeling a little under the weather. Got a headache. Might be flu, or something."
"Well, we'll get ya back to the Tower, and you can take it easy for a few days. C'mon..."
The ride back to the Tower was strange. Normally, Beastboy would attempt to lighten the mood with his silly antics and jokes. To have him sitting quietly all the way home seemed unnatural somehow. Upon arrival, he simply made his way up to his room, without saying a word.
Starfire remarked on his unusual demeanor, at dinner. "It is unlike Beastboy to be absent at a meal... perhaps this illness is quite serious," she said worriedly.
Cyborg nodded his agreement. "You gotta point. Poor guy looked pretty bad earlier today. I've whipped him up a vegetarian soup I'm gonna take up to him after I'm done eating."
Robin stared at him. "Vegetarian, you? I didn't think you knew how to cook without some sort of animal product being involved," he said with a bit of a amusement. "That's pretty nice of you."
"Well, just because I wouldn't eat it doesn't mean I can't make it," Cyborg said, a shade embarrassed. As much as his comrades teased each other, Robin knew that he and Beastboy were very close friends.
"Um, I'm finished eating... I can take it up to him."
Everyone at the table stared at Raven, surprised by the uncharacteristic display of altruism.
"What? I'm finished, and I know how much Cyborg can put away at dinnertime. If we wait for him, Beastboy may starve to death," she rose from the table to deposit her dishes in the sink.
"That's not funny, Raven," Cyborg mock-pouted. "The soup's in the covered bowl on the tray by the stove."
"It is most nice of you to attend to Beastboy, Raven," Starfire said brightly.
"...And if he asks, Robin ordered me to do this, got it?"
"Of course!" the Tamaranean girl beamed, nonplussed at her teammates customary grouchiness.
Carrying the soup, Raven made her way to the elevator.
"Y'know, I've never really seen BB get sick," Robin mused aloud, "Other than when he eats too much that is."
"It is weird," Cyborg agreed, "Maybe his kooky biology makes it difficult for a normal illness to get to him. Not that I really understand how his body works, anyway."
Robin considered matters. "He's always bounced back from injury pretty quickly in the past, maybe he just needs a few days rest . Criminal activity has been pretty light, lately. That's shouldn't be a problem."
Starfire suddenly perked up. "Oh! On Tamaran, we traditionally make a delebnarz pudding for someone stricken with an illness. But... fermented zarl fruit will be difficult to obtain." she looked thoughtful for a moment. "Perhaps horseradish sauce and maple syrup will do."
Robin felt his stomach lurch. "Let's just go with Cy's soup for now, Starfire, I'm not sure alien food is what he'd want right now. After he gets better, we can take him out for dinner somewhere."
Just then, the intercom system in the tower crackled to life and Raven's voice rang out through the speakers.
"Robin, Cyborg, Star! I need you to meet me in the Medlab, NOW!"
"That doesn't sound good, lets move!" Cyborg led them all to the Medical area several floors below.
Upon arrival, they saw Raven kneeling over Beastboy, who was sprawled on the ground, his limbs thrashing violently. The blue-cloaked girl was desperately attempting to restrain the boy's out-of-control movements.
Raven looked up at them, desperation on her face "Help me! I found him like this!"
Without thinking, Robin and Starfire rushed to their stricken teammate, helping Raven to restrain his flailing limbs, as Cyborg hurried to a medicine cabinet.
Robin handed Raven a small ball of gauze he had grabbed from a first aid kit in the mad dash to her side. "Raven, try to put this in his mouth, so he doesn't bite his tongue out!"
As Starfire gently held his flailing head still, the empath stuffed the cloth in his mouth, restraining his jaw. The boy seemed to be completely unaware of their presence as they kept a tight grip on his arms and legs.
"Hang on guys, I'm comin'!" Cyborg shouted as he rushed to join them, a hypodermic needle in hand. Upon arrival, he injected the contents of the needle into one of the boy's forearms. In a few moments, Beastboy's spasm's quieted, and he seemed to lapse into a unconscious state. Cyborg carefully took the anesthetized boy into his and lifted him from the floor, carrying him to a nearby examination table.
The four teens gathered around their fallen comrade, their worried faces mirroring each other. Robin spoke first. "Raven, what happened?"
"I-I was taking his dinner to him, and knocked on his door, and called his name, but, he didn't respond. I knocked again, and still didn't get an answer. I just assumed he was asleep, and was about to leave, when I heard a crash from inside, like something had been broken. I used my powers to force the door, and found him on the floor, having a seizure. I grabbed him and warped here, and called you." She looked at Cyborg, who was using an arcane-looking scanner to examine Beastboy. "Is he going to be alright?"
"I have to find out what caused him to have that attack, Raven," he replied gently. "So far, I've detected irregular central nervous system activity. I'm going to need to run a few more tests, to track down a cause."
"I could attempt to heal him," she offered.
"Sure, give it a go," he replied, putting his scanner away.
Raven's hands were covered with a white glow, as she held them above Beastboy's head. She closed her eyes in concentration for a few moments, then sighed as she opened them again. "It's no good. I can't find anything to heal," she said in frustration as she dropped her hands to her side again. "My powers only work on localized injury, and I can't find anything to heal. If this was a result of his illness, my abilities are useless here."
Robin attempted to ease her mind, "It's ok, you've already helped him enough. Cyborg, what can we do?" he asked, deferring to the Cybernetic boy's medical knowledge.
"I'm going to run some more tests. If this is related to his sickness, I need to track down a cause, before I can come up with a treatment." He looked at them seriously. "There's nothing more you guys can do here, I'd suggest you all get some rest." At their hesitation, he pointed firmly to the door. "Go on, you won't be able to help him if you're all asleep on your feet."
As they left, Robin paused a moment. "Cy, do you think you'll be able to take care of him alone?"
"I think so, I can give him some more midazolam, if he has another seizure. And if he wakes up, or his condition changes, I'll be sure to call you guys. Till then, I'm going to run some blood tests; pathogens, toxicology, and the like. I'll figure out what's causing this Rob, I promise," he said earnestly.
"Alright. Call me as soon as anything comes up." Robin left the Medlab, and retired to his room, in a fruitless quest for sleep.
Raven woke the following morning, from a fitful slumber, dressed, and quickly made her way towards the medical area. Before she could get there, she ran into Cyborg in the hallway. "How's Beastboy?" she asked without preamble.
Raven noted the weariness from a sleepless night in Cyborg's human eye, as well as something else... something troubling. "He's stable, Rae. Still sleeping. I was just about to come and get you; I want you to come to the main room. Star's already there." his voice was unnaturally even.
Feeling worry beginning to gnaw at her mind already, Raven followed her comrade to the elevator, which dropped them off in the common room of the Tower. He led her over to the couch, where Starfire already waited, seated on the couch. The Tamaranean girl turned to them as they entered. "Where is Robin?"
"He'll be along shortly, Star. He had to look into a few things," Cyborg said quietly.
Again, Raven was worried by the tone in her friend's voice, like he had been practicing what he was saying. This promised to be unpleasant.
Cyborg stood before the couch. "You may want to sit down, Raven."
Raven instantly knew that her fears were correct, hearing that phrase.
She seated herself next to Starfire. Cyborg didn't join them, as he continued to stand before them. Once Raven had seated herself, he began to speak.
"I've isolated the cause of Beastboy's condition. It's a virus, called Sakutia."
"I can't say I've heard of it," Raven remarked.
"You wouldn't have, it's native to the tropics. How BB ended up with it is anybody's guess."
Starfire looked at Cyborg, puzzled. "If that is the case, you can treat him, yes?"
Cyborg said nothing.
"Cyborg," Raven prompted, "Something's wrong, isn't it?"
He took a deep breath. "I can ease the symptoms, make him more comfortable, but... there is no treatment, no cure. He's dying."
The two girls sat in stunned silence. Beastboy had faced dangers beyond count with them, vicious monsters, criminals of boundless cunning and resources, only to be brought down by this.
"The virus is not contagious," Cyborg continued in a dead voice, "So there's no real risk on infection. Still, I think that we should all be given blood tests, just to be sure."
Starfire was shaking her head. "I-I do not believe this. I refuse to believe this!" she said in a distraught voice, her eyes filling with tears. "Beastboy cannot die!"
"I'm sorry, Starfire, I... I did everything that I could. This virus is strongly mutagenic, changing it's structure every several generations. There is no effective treatment. I'm so sorry..." Raven could tell the young man was struggling to keep his emotions under control, for their benefit. His voice was even, but his trembling hands betrayed his feelings.
Raven fought to calm her own heart. "Starfire's right, Cyborg. There has to be something. We aren't just going to let this happen."
"I wasn't planning on it. Rob checked in with me around one o'clock this morning, and I told him the situation. He said he was going to check into a few things. I haven't seen him since. I'm going to look into some more possibilities myself, later. We're going to fight this thing to the end, I swear!" he said with steel in his voice.
Starfire looked over at Raven, her face streaked with tears. "Is there anything your magic can do?"
"Not much, " the half-demon replied. "Magic works fine for injuries, but not so much for illness. A sickness can affect the whole body. I'd have to take him apart and put him back together again, and there's no safe way for me to do that."
Robin burst into the room, his face weary. In his hand he held a scrap of paper. "I think I may have something, Cyborg."
The Titan's leader nodded. "I know somebody. He's a bigwig at Wayne Enterprises. He said that their Med-Tech division has had dealings with a certain doctor. He's supposed to be a specialist in infectious diseases, really does well with the impossible cases."
"This contact of your's at Wayne know what he's talking about?" Raven asked.
"Yes, he's more than reliable," Robin stated with certainty. "He says this guy has a reputation for eccentricity, but, he's top of his field." He handed the paper he was carrying to Cyborg, who looked it over.
"I'd say you're contact does know what he's talking about," the cybernetic Titan stated, "This guy's background is great." Cyborg thought for a moment. "Beastboy's stable enough to move. We'll probably want to fly him to the Doc's hospital. It'll be easier to treat him there. I'll go make the preparations." He handed the paper to Raven, and hurried out of the room.
Robin looked at the ladies. "I'd better go make arrangements with the hospital, and the Doctor. Starfire, call Titans East; explain things to them, and ask them to cover for us for a few days. Raven, see if Cyborg needs a hand." Robin rushed off to the communications station.
Raven looked down at the paper Cyborg had handed her, seeing a name followed by a long list of arcane-looking medical credentials.
"Gregory House, M.D.," she mused aloud. "I hope Rob's friend is right about you."
It was a short ride in the T-ship from Jump City to the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. The five heroes arrived early that afternoon, and were greeted on the helipad by what appeared to be three young doctors. Dr. House, however, was notable by his absence.
Robin, upon disembarking, approached the three, while his comrades removed the still anesthetized Beastboy from the ship. "I'm Robin, I believe we're expected?"
One of the doctors, an attractive woman in her early to mid 20's, spoke up. "I'm Dr. Cameron, this is Dr. Chase-" she pointed to a young man with longish hair at her side, "And this is Dr. Foreman." The African-American man at her side nodded politely. "What the situation of the patient?"
Cyborg came forward, cradling Beastboy in his arms. He gently laid the young man on a gurney that Dr. Chase had at the ready. "He's still heavily sedated," he responded, "He's feverish, with accelerated heart rate and elevated blood pressure, He's been subject to grand mal seizures, probably as a result of the virus attacking his brain."
Dr. Foreman spoke up as they began to wheel Beastboy into the hospital proper. "The information we were given mentioned a tropical disease called Sakutia; do we have any idea how he was infected?"
"None," Robin replied, "He was complaining about just generally not feeling well yesterday, and the seizures started last night. Before that, he was fine."
"We're going to get him prepped for an immediate MRI," Foreman said, "We need to know how extensive any possible inflammation of his brain is before we start thinking about a course of therapy. His biology being so... odd will make things all the more difficult."
"Can I stay with him?" Cyborg asked. "I've been in charge of his care up to this point, and I know as much about him as anybody."
"I wish to remain with our friend as well," Starfire said.
Foreman nodded. "Alright, we could probably use the advice."
"I'd really like to speak to Dr. House," Robin said, "Where may I find him?"
Dr. Cameron looked vaguely indecisive for a moment. "All right. Follow me." She left her other two colleagues, who continued wheeling Beastboy towards the Diagnostic wing of the hospital with Cyborg and Starfire, and led Robin and Raven down an adjacent hallway, dodging the bustling traffic as nurses and doctors made their rounds. A few minutes later, the doctor stopped at a large glass-fronted office. Cameron knocked briefly on the door, before entering.
Dr. Gregory House didn't look much like a doctor, certainly. His face was scruffy and covered with several days worth of stubbly beard, and he didn't wear the while lab coat that seemed to be prerequisite attire for those in the medical field. Instead, he was wearing a rather wrinkled button-up blue shirt, brown sport coat, and worn blue jeans.
He looked up from the paper he was poring over, and frowned at the pair of Titans.
"Halloween's not for another eight months. I'm all out of candy. Sorry," he said acerbically.
Cameron cleared her throat rather nervously. "Dr, House, this is Robin, the leader of the Teen Titans. The young man with Sakutia that we admitted today is a part of his team."
Dr. House squinted as he seemed to think, "Yeah, the Beastkid, or whatever his handle was."
"It's 'Beastboy,' Dr. House," Robin said tersely.
"Yeah, whatever," House said dismissively. "I don't suppose you could shed any light on how your friend came down with a terribly rare African jungle disease?"
"I'm afraid not, sir."
"Hmph, Okay, not that that really mattered, anyway. Doesn't really change things on my end, I'm just the lucky soul that gets to figure out how to deal with the disease." House looked up at Cameron. "I don't suppose the patient himself has been able to give any insights?"
"No, he's still sedated, from what we've been told, he's suffering from violent pervasive seizures."
"No history of any unusual medical conditions prior to this?"
"Uhh... does changing into animals count?" Robin offered rather lamely.
House looked at him very steadily. "Yes. Yes it does." He sighed. "Stupid meta-human crap. I have to try to treat an incurable disease, in a teenage boy, who biological make-up has all the stability of your average celebrity marriage. I'd better make sure I've got plenty of Vicodin around."
Somehow, Robin could already tell there were trying times ahead.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Other than Cartoons, I don't watch much TV, but House is a show that I genuinely enjoy along with 24.) This fic emerged out of one of the very random conversation I had with my fellow author, CalliopeMused. I think Gregory House might be the most compelling single character on television today, and I couldn't resist the idea of trying something with him, myself. So, I've transplanted him into the DC comics universe, as an experiment. Besides, It gives me something else fun to play with, while I try to get the details for the final chapters of "Paragon" hammered out. I only hope it's as fun to read, as it is to write.
Anyway, thanks for reading.
17 February 2006
Disclaimer: The Teen Titans and associated characters are the property of DC Comics and Time-Warner/AOL. House and associated characters are the property of Bat Hat Harry Productions and Fox. This story is for entertainment purposes only; no copyright infringement is intended.