"You don't have to do this," Evan said before he realized the words were out of his mouth. The woman looked away from him, but not before he caught the look in her eyes. There was something familiar about it, but he couldn't quite place it. He pushed the thought aside, worrying that sympathy would deconstruct the grumpy mood that his head injuries and mounting hunger had worked so hard on. "People leave Cuba all the time, and they don't have to kidnap people to do it." Or maybe they did. Evan wasn't really an expert on Cuban hostage statistics relative to leveraging emigration opportunities. He made a note to hit up Wikipedia later.
"It's dangerous," the woman shrugged. The motion made it clear that she'd considered the option numerous times. "There are coyotes that are willing to smuggle us out, but it's not free. We don't have enough money to guarantee our safe passage, and the authorities could discover my uncle at any time." Evan hated to admit it, but the woman made a valid argument. He understood a thing or two about looking after family. Hank had always gone to incredible lengths to look after Evan, especially after their mother had died. Evan supposed he couldn't fault the woman for trying to do the same for her uncle. He frowned. How long did it take for Stockholm Syndrome to set in?
The woman got up to leave, perhaps deciding that she'd said too much, but she paused in the doorway, looking over her shoulder.
"We'll bring you some food in a little while," she muttered under her breath. "We're not monsters; we just want to protect our family." Evan nodded. He got it. He really did.
"What's your name?" he asked. The woman looked conflicted for a moment, as if wondering if it would be safe or not to tell him. Evan picked up on this and mustered a small smile. "I've already seen your face. A name isn't going to hurt." The woman almost laughed.
"It's Elena," she finally whispered, walking out and shutting the door behind her.
Mindy was sitting outside of a small cafe, relaxing in the shade of the awning as she sipped at her coffee. She had a lot on her mind, like the weather, the scuba diving she'd do later, and, more prominently than the preceding thoughts, the man she'd done last night. Evan was a nice guy, and she didn't often meet nice guys that didn't turn out to be jerks later on.
It was just her luck that she'd meet someone so amazing while she was in a totally different country. The conditions did not lend themselves to a second meeting, and she doubted that she'd ever see him again. It was a shame, too. Evan was genuinely amazing. He was honest and funny and….
Mindy heaved a weary sigh and looked up from her coffee. And that's when she noticed the brunette sitting across from her. Mindy jumped and stifled a yell of surprise. The brunette peeked over the top of her sunglasses and smiled genially.
"Sorry, It was not my intention to startle you," she apologized, extending a hand. "My name is Freddie Koenig, and I was just wondering if I could ask you a few questions about Evan Lawson." Given the circumstances, Freddie didn't take it personally when Mindy didn't shake her hand. Instead, the blonde was giving her a level stare, not bothering to hide her suspicion.
"How do you know that I know Evan?" she asked cautiously.
"It says 'HankMed' on your shirt," Freddie said matter-of-factly, pointing at the neat, white lettering on the lime green shirt that Mindy had "borrowed" from Evan. Mindy looked down, clearly embarrassed by her oversight. Her embarrassment quickly turned into dread as she returned her focus to the woman across from her.
"You're not his girlfriend of wife or something, are you? 'Cause he said he was single, I swear!" Mindy blurted out defensively. She braced herself for whatever the German had to say. So much for meeting a nice guy. Instead, Freddie suppressed a laugh and shook her head, her waves of dark hair bouncing with the motion.
"No, I don't have any sort of romantic relationship with Mister Lawson. I assure you; my interest is purely professional," she promised, removing her sunglasses and setting them on the table.
"You're coworkers?" Mindy asked.
"If you like," Freddie nodded. When she thought about it, it was probably the best way to explain her connection in all of this. Mindy accepted this, but the worry didn't leave her features.
"Evan's missing, right? Otherwise, you wouldn't have to look for him. Is he in some kind of trouble?" she asked, clearly concerned. Freddie marveled at the Canadian's ability to concoct the worst case scenario.
"That remains to be seen," she answered vaguely. Realizing that this response was far from ideal, she quickly tacked on, "I'm sure he's just making one last round of the city before he has to leave." Mindy did not look convinced, and even though the little voice in the back of her head was sternly reminded Freddie that her current assignment was "need-to-know," she offered a small grin.
"If he's missing, I will find him. It's part of my job. Now, can you remember any place that he might've mentioned to you? Any place that he might've wanted to revisit before he left?" Mindy closed her eyes, mentally replaying the night before.
"He was hanging out at the hospital with us, actually. His brother was helping my friend with a medical emergency," she spoke out loud for Freddie's benefit. "I felt horrible. They were having a really good time at a bar, and I just barged in there and demanded help." Freddie sat forward.
"What was the name of the bar?" she prompted, her voice level. Mindy furrowed her brow. It had all happened so fast; the night before seemed like a blur. But after a moment, a name surfaced in the back of her mind.
"La Reina y El Mar!" she exclaimed. She opened her eyes. Freddie was already gone.
Hank pored over Boris' charts, eyebrows knitted in concentration. There had to be something he could do. He'd treated for everything he could think of, but Boris still wasn't stabilizing. Not for the first time that day, Hank cursed under his breath, pulling his hand down his face. It was hard enough to try and counteract an experimental treatment, never mind an experimental treatment for an as-of-yet unnamed disease.
He had to give it to Doctor Casseras, though. Her research was thorough and well founded. She hadn't rushed the groundwork, and she was highly determined. These were all fantastic qualities. It was her emotional attachment to Boris that Hank wasn't sure about. On the one hand, it was a very strong motivator, and Marisa would never purposefully endanger Boris' life, but at the same time, it had clouded her judgment.
He made his way back to Boris' room to find that Doctor Casseras was already there. She stood at the foot of the hospital bed, a pensive look on her face. Hank cleared his throat to make his presence known. Doctor Casseras turned to face him.
"He's not stabilizing," she said more than asked. Hank shook his head. No use skirting around the issue. He could tell that she was blaming herself, but he could also tell that she was thinking through every possibility, trying to find a solution. A nurse poked her head in the door, holding out a cordless phone. Marisa accepted it, sparing another look at Boris before holding it up to her ear.
"Doctor Casseras," she said in lieu of a hello. Hank could make out the voice on the other end enough to tell that it was a woman, and she was excited. Marisa listened for a moment before frowning. "Baje la velocidad. Comience de nuevo." Slow down. Start again. Evidently, whoever was on the other end didn't hear Doctor Casseras, because the Cuban doctor repeated herself several times.
She was telling the other person to start again for perhaps the fifth time when the light bulb went on in Hank's head.
"That's it! That's what Boris needs!" he announced. "He needs to start over! Like a reboot!" At this revelation, Marisa let the hand holding the phone drop to her side. Hank had her full attention.
Author's notes: Yeah, I know. It was Carmen and her crew that "kidnapped" Evan. But that particular factoid wasn't really panning out for me, so I took elements of the back-story and fabricated some original character. Blah blah blah. BASICALLY, it was a way for me to use the bits of the original plot that would fit while at the same time giving me the liberty of a character that doesn't have to meet any expectations.
I did try to keep the medical bits intact, barring the part in my story where Boris was temporarily comatose. But for the most part, I kept my nose out and let the way-better-at-medical-jargon Royal Pains writers take the helm. Otherwise, that would've played out like, "Boris done got the ailment, so Hank fixed it real doctor-like with like a stethoscope or something. It wasn't Lupus. The end."
As for the big action, we're heading there, I promise.
Hope you enjoyed! Please review!
Peace, Love, and HankMed,