Author's Note: This story goes to Zaedah. Who wanted Miles to get a good beating. How could I resist such persuasion?
The National Institutes of Health had a very generous array of insurance policies. Policies that could cover anything as small as a broken ceiling tile to something as large as a natural disaster that decided to drop its friendly little self smack dab in the middle of headquarters. The NIH even had good health insurance, benefits, and top notch life insurance plans that not even the most morally guided person would question killing someone over.
What the NIH did not have was fire extinguishers on every corner or small trolleys following the new kids around twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days of the year. Which was a tragedy, really, seeing that at noon on the first of June, they could have really used one.
The NIH; however, did have, at thirty minutes after noon on the first of June, a severely torched off Dr. Natalie Durant, and a very torched pathology lab. And, although the latter could be remedied with the Institute's wonderful insurance policy that covered fires, the former was probably going to kill someone.
Or, if she had any say: Dr. Miles Freaking-Brainless-Wonder-Boy McCabe.
"Where is he!"
The huddled team and a few scattered patients watched in awe from the perfectly manicured lawn as a flurry of white lab coat came barreling out of the side doors of the supposedly empty building. The livid declaration that spilled out of the pathologist adorning the said, singed lab coat took a silent moment for the dozen or so people to register.
It definitely was not the right time to mention to Natalie that four out of the five members of her team thought that she had gone up in flames with her lab. But it was definitely the right time for one of the four of the five members of the team, who had been absolutely sure that she had been baked, to slowly ease himself behind a very large and relieved looking Dr. Stephen Connor.
Dark blue eyes flashed dangerously when they caught sight of the young man who was doing horrible job of using Connor has a human shield. "You!"
Three pairs of eyes shifted from the very-not-dead Dr. Natalie Durant to the very-much-going-to-be-dead Dr. Miles Wonder-Boy McCabe.
"Me?" came the pitiful reply.
A single wagging index finger was beckoning him to remove himself from his poorly thought out hiding place, and when he had positioned himself in front of Natalie, by a very helpful Stephen Connor, Miles allowed his shoulders to sag in frightful anticipation. He had stood in this very position multiple of times in regards to their supervisor, but he had never thought that Natalie would ever be the one doing the scolding. But, then again, if anyone were to ask Natalie about such a thought, she likely tell them that he didn't do much thinking in the first place.
"You used my lab this morning." It was not a question but a fact seethed out through very clenched teeth.
A nod told their audience that he was capable of following what she was saying.
"You forgot something, didn't you?" Natalie nodded even as she asked this, her face and voice contorting into a sickly sweet mockery of kindness.
Miles cleared his throat and looked to the others for support. What he received was feminine sympathy directed nervously at the pavement, a dark frown that made him quiver, and a very pale, sadistically pleased smirk.
"I did?" he croaked, his hands fidgeting at his sides as he watched for her reaction.
The two visible winces to his right and the chuckle muffled by a cough behind him told Miles that denial was not a safe method. The small hand twisting the collar of his shirt as he was dragged with surprising strength toward the door was a definite sign that he should have left playing dumb to someone else.
"See that?" Natalie whispered, one of her slender fingers pointing to the shattered glass and smoke just inside the building.
"What is it?" She ground out.
"Y-your l-lab..." Miles stuttered, swallowing the heavy lump in his throat, as he thought that surely he was going to die.
The hand tightened around his collar and Miles was certain that he had heard Frank say Natalie's name. "What's wrong with it?" she murmured, her voice sweeter than before.
When he failed to answer her after a two second period, she released his shirt and glared. "You blew it up! That's what's wrong with it!"
"Natalie..." Frank repeated, louder this time as he gazed around at the watching civilians.
Ignoring her friend and apparently suicidal colleague, Natalie jabbed her finger into her target's chest. "What in the world possessed you to make you think you keep the damn burner on! Do you know how many tests we'll...no I'll have to redo...because there is no way in hell I'm letting you anywhere near my new lab!" A look over her shoulder and into the wreckage fueled another wave of anger. "Are you completely dense! Look at it! Look!"
Miles looked again, even though he was sure he knew what shattered glass and smoke looked like, just so he could secure that he would live another day. "I'm s-sorry, Nat."
"Sorry?" She looked slightly bewildered for the moment, apparently having argued one too many times with Stephen, where apologies were never given. "Sorry doesn't unexplode my lab," she hissed.
By this time Eva had already decided that rounding up the stranglers and moving them to the east side of the building was better than allowing them to watch Natalie thoroughly murder her friend. The flock cast backward glances toward the unfolding event as Frank took it in his power to gently grab Natalie's arms and pull her several feet from the young man she was verbally slaughtering.
Stephen watched with the same amused smirk plastered to his face as she kept up her verbal assault for a strong ten minutes. He knew her as one of the kindest people he had ever had the opportunity of meeting, but was equally proud of the fact that at that moment she was making him look tame. Because, if he had any say, Miles was going to be getting the same speech before the day was out from various other people, himself included.
"And you better hope that the NIH has a cure for blatant stupidity," Natalie finished, tugging her arms out of Frank's grasp. "Because if you do something like that again, I will personally throw you into the damn fire myself..."
Removing herself from the young man's personal space, Natalie looked at Frank with narrowing eyes and gave a large huff of air. "Move." Raising his hands in surrender, Frank stepped to the side and looked at Stephen, whistling softly as Natalie stalked by.
After a long moment of heavy silence, Miles took a deep breath and allowed his tense body to relax. Rubbing his hand against his red face, he turned to Stephen and, upon noticing the ever present smirk and slight chuckle, allowed his eyebrows to furrow. "What?"
A large pale thumb motioned to the place just over the young man's shoulder, and Miles frowned before turning around slowly.
The Queen Of Darkness, Torturer Of All Things Living, Tangled Entity That Radiated Of Murder, Ice Queen To Freeze All Ice Queens, Crusher Of All Dreams, Sea of Apathy That Drowned All Humor, Demon Of Snark, Wicked Witch Of DC, otherwise known as Kate Ewing, was coming his way, and boy did she look awfully frisky today.
And if he thought Natalie had been hard on him, then Miles Freaking-Brainless-Wonder-Boy McCabe had another thing coming.
No one blamed the kid for running.