Monahan groaned, and Quincy quickly clamped down on his mouth to keep Sanderson from hearing him. "Shhh, Monahan, we don't want to alert this nut that you're awake."
Frank looked into the relieved face of Quincy. "Sorry Quincy, to pull this on you, but Sam and I couldn't come up with anything else."
"It's fine, I'm just glad you're still breathing. What do we do now?"
"In about five minutes, I'll need you to distract him away from the chemicals."
"You don't want to know, Quincy."
"You're gonna kill him? Monahan, no!"
"Do you wanna save Asten and everyone else in this building? We don't got a choice anymore, Quincy. None at all."
Quincy hated it. He hated the very idea of it. But he knew Asten wasn't going to last much longer.
"I'll distract him by telling him Asten's dying…" Quincy looked down. "It won't be too far from the truth." He glanced at Monahan. "Are you sure you can't just wound him?"
"Quincy, I don't think we can take a chance…" He pat Quincy on the shoulder. "I'm sorry, I know you don't like it. I'm just not willing to take any more risks."
Quincy looked away then back at Monahan. "Good luck, Frank."
"Yeah, you too, Quince…"
Quincy headed back into the room with Asten while Monahan silently watched Sanderson pacing near the chemicals. Quincy gently shook Asten's shoulder.
"Bob, hey Bob…"
Asten groaned. "What?"
"Sorry to wake you, but all hell's about to break loose and I want you to stay calm, okay?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Monahan is in the other room on a gurney. Sanderson thinks he's dead."
"But he's not?"
"He's very much alive, and he's about to get us out of here."
"Doesn't matter. I just want you to stay calm and play along with me when I call Sanderson over here. I'm gonna tell him you're having another heart attack, so I need you to play it up."
"That shouldn't be too hard," Asten whispered. "Then what?"
"Monahan is gonna take care of Sanderson."
"Take care of him? How?"
"Asten, let it go. Just—"
"—You mean he's going to kill him, don't you? Quincy…"
"Sorry Bob, no other way."
"I can't believe you'd condone something like that, Quincy."
Quincy looked down. "I don't."
"Well then, how could you go along with this?"
Then it dawned on him. "You're not doing this for my sake, are you?"
Quincy remained silent, and glanced at the time. "Show time, Asten, get ready." He spoke loudly, "Sanderson! Sanderson! Help me! Asten's having a heart attack!"
Quincy glared at Asten who glared back but then grabbed his chest and began moaning. Sanderson left the chemicals and came into the room.
"Here," Quincy said, "hold this O2 mask to his face."
"This isn't my problem, Quincy, I ain't no nursemaid."
"But he's gonna die, don't you understand? I need your help! He needs your help!"
"I don't care, Quincy. Do you hear me, I don't care! Nobody cared about my brother…"
"And you son," Monahan's voice called from the next room, "do you care about your own life?"
Sanderson turned, pointing his gun in Monahan's direction, but Frank didn't wait, he squeezed the trigger. Sanderson dropped like a stone to the floor.
"Jesus!" Quincy exclaimed.
The doctor dropped to the floor and checked the man's vitals, but there was nothing. "Damn," Quincy muttered.
Monahan moved toward him. "Would you rather it had been you, Quincy? Or me or Atsten?"
"I would not," Quincy said, but bitterness colored his tone. He turned his attention back to Asten, checking his pulse. "Thready," he commented. "Monahan, get the paramedics, our friend here needs surgery."
Quincy watched as the paramedics wheeled Asten out. Brill and Wilson came in, followed by Sam.
Monahan looked at Wilson. "Next time, let us handle it. Come on, Brill… Quincy, you coming?"
"Not just yet, Frank."
Wilson glared at Quincy. "You managed to get your way, doctor."
"Not really," Quincy said, kneeling by Sanderson. "Somebody still died, and I've gotta take care of him." He looked at Sam. "Come on, Sam, help me with him."
"You bet, Quince…"
Wilson shook his head as the two coroners gently lifted Sanderson onto a table, preparing to perform an autopsy on him, despite the obvious mode of death.
"Why not leave this to someone else?" Wilson asked.
Quincy glared at him. "I don't expect you to understand this, but everyone deserves dignity in death. Now get out of my lab."
Wilson turned and left and only then did Sam ask what he'd wanted to ask since arriving in the room.
"Is Asten going to be okay?"
"Yeah, Sam, it was close for awhile, but he's pretty tough. As soon as we finish with Sanderson, we'll head over to the hospital and make sure of it. Deal?"
"Deal, Quince. I'm glad you're okay too."
"Yeah. I just wish it'd been different for Sanderson…"
"He got himself into it, Quince, don't forget that."
"I know. But would any of us have been okay after losing a brother we loved dearly?"
Sam looked at Quincy and could hear the undercurrents of how the man had been terrified that he would lose Monahan or Asten.
"No Quince. I don't suppose that we would."