"Oh Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be" by Tris
Prof. Wilken's POV
A/N: Sheesh, finally. Took me long enough. And there actually are more chapters to come, they're in the rough stages. I really like the one that comes after this, I think it will be Markuscentric. This chapter is a bit philosophical and some may likely disagree with my interpretation of Stigma. But hey…that's the way it goes. No one really spells out in New Blood why some doctors find Stigma cool, except that it's "unique." Well…aren't other diseases unique? Meh, in any case, here is chapter two.
But first, a disclaimer: Atlus owns Trauma Center and all characters within this story. I made the plot for this story, that is all.
"Prof. Wilkens, you have a visitor," the nurse announces from outside my room.
"Show him in, please." I raise my eyebrows as the door opens. "Dr. Rousseau? What the hell are you doing here?! Get out!" I lunge forward in my hospital bed and grind out the words.
"Please—just give me a chance," he says softly, looking at the floor. "I know you're angry with me, but I wanted to see you. Haven't for so long."
This should be amusing at the least, and I'm about to die from boredom so why not? I shrug and wave him in.
Rousseau walks into the room slowly—I'm surprised to see he's leaning on a cane for support. There are other changes too. His face is scarred; faint, but I can tell. Also his hair is much shorter, and he's shed his spectacles. He lowers himself into a nearby chair with a sigh.
"You're not looking well," he begins, his voice unusually concerned.
"I could say the same for you. What happened?"
"You were there…"
"The fire, I remember—you were badly burned, then?"
"Yes. I…I almost died. It was…" he squirms and furrows his brow. "Well, that's in the past."
I should ask him about his condition, should be polite at least…but the question that's been pounding inside me explodes out. "What were you doing in my office that night?"
He blinks for a moment, then stammers, "I'll…explain. I was hoping to…er…borrow—"
His eyes blaze at the word. "No! I wanted to watch the recording of Stigma again, don't you understand? That's all! When I came into your office I saw a man dragging you out the window, and someone else was shoveling all the research into a sack. I didn't have time to do anything, because he climbed out and tossed a lit match into the room. From the smell of things, they must have doused the floor with gas beforehand. The room filled with flames and I was on fire before I knew it." He pauses, catching his breath. "Do you…believe me?"
Believe him, when he wanted to steal my data, my honor and my pride? Ridiculous! I stare him down, and see something raw in his eyes...I have to know more. "The surgery was over. Why did you want to watch the recording again?"
He breathes heavily, staring at the cane gripped in his hands. "I know I'm not alone in this love…" he pauses, gathers his thoughts. "Not many understand this bond, and I can't explain how it happens, but it happens! The first time I heard there was an unknown disease, I was captivated. How has it kept its secrets so long? The more I learn, the more I want to learn! Stigma is fierce, elegant, and powerful—Professor, I've heard your voice when you speak of it, I know you understand!"
I laugh sadly. "I used to be fascinated by its uniqueness. I thought culturing it was a wise plan—I was wrong, Luc! Stigma has both ruined and killed. Don't interrupt, it's true. Look at us if you want proof! It crippled you and broke me. Markus was right, I had no business playing with that fire."
"I refuse to believe that," Luc snaps. "Stigma is pure; its innocence frees it from right and wrong, all that is wrong or right is what we interpret. The disease itself is holy, and I will not forsake it."
"The disease itself is holy," I repeat softly. "I said that to Markus…tried so hard to convince him that everything starts beautiful, it's the humans who twist and blacken everything."
"That's right." He leans forward. "And do you still believe it?"
For the first time we lock eyes, and I realize my heart is pounding. "What if I still love it," I whisper, "And all my efforts to save it fail? What if the leading scientists damn it to hell?"
"You will lose a piece of yourself," Luc says softly. "But…it's better than killing it."
I nod slowly. "I think I see, but…I have so much blood on my hands. How can I still love what killed innocent people?"
"They were victims of Stigma abuse, not the pure form you studied for so long. The real Stigma…I've seen it in your recordings of the first specimens. Of course others will twist its beauty, they just don't understand!"
"I've never heard anyone else talk…the way I used to think," I whisper, looking away.
"Don't stop thinking like that. You have to hold on to everything that you know to be true, or everything that makes you who you are will die."
I swallow and look down at my clenched hands. "I…I have to think about this, Luc. It's…"
"Of course, Professor. I'm sure you want to rest for a while anyway. I'll be on my way." He stands and stretches, and before my eyes his knees give out beneath him. I'm helpless to do anything--he falls, grabs at the edge of my bed. I expect him to straighten, but he lowers himself to the floor, grasping the edge of the bedframe and breathing rapidly, eyes wide.
"Luc…do you need me to call Elena?" My hand is already reaching for the nurse call button.
"No! No, I'm fine." Luc's breaths deepen and lose their rough desperation. "Just…give me a minute…" He hauls himself painfully to his feet and grasps his cane. "I'll…be fine. Promise." He gives me a shaky smile.
Luc… how can two people come through the same fire burned differently? The strange mystery draws a smile from me as I gaze at Luc's retreating back. Then, I have it. Not the answer to that riddle, but the key to the greatest riddle of my life. Even if Stigma is scourged from the earth, the core of why I loved it will live on in every puzzle that baffles and delights. Stigma is immortal, omnipresent. Love, or kill? I know my decision.
He pauses at the door.
"Will you…come back?"
"Of course, Professor." The lingering traces of con man finally evaporate, and he gives me a childlike smile. "You know…I always admired you." And then he's gone. For a moment I wonder if he was really here.
I start to lie back, but then sit up instead and pull the window shade open. I haven't looked out the window for so long…the faint reddish light on the trees makes my breath catch. I watch until I see Luc limping his patient way across the parking lot. He reaches his car, and even after he's driven away I remain staring out the window at the sunlit branches and drifting clouds.
A/N: Ah, so Luc has now brought back some of the Prof.'s spirit, eh? But…now how will things be between Markus and the Prof.? Hmm…also, are Markus and Luc reconciled? Perhaps not…Anyhoo, I know this chapter took an insane time to put up. I really don't know why…But you see, I am working on this!