Sorry its been a long time in updating, and that now this is a very short and slightly pointless chapter. Thank you for all the lovely reviews from all of you! I'm very grateful!
I'm really missing SW – I must save up for the DVD boxsets!
As usual the BBC own everything recognisable. I own the spider.
Harry's head felt like it was full of fluff and thinking about anything for more than a few seconds seemed to take considerably more effort than he would have liked. He slowly turned his head to discover the source of the irritating noises that were setting his teeth on edge, and found himself surrounded by a plethora of machines. He had a feeling that he should know what they were all for, but couldn't seem to pull that knowledge out of his memories. The chair beside his bed was empty but he recognised the coat draped over it as Nikki's. He wondered where she was, and what was happening.
Thinking back Harry couldn't remember much of the last couple of days. He remembered being at the lab, had a vague recollection of going home, after that everything was a confusing blur, punctuated by people shouting his name.
He was aware of a dulled feeling of anxiety, fluttering deep within his chest although, try as he might he couldn't seem to put his finger on what was bothering him. The more he concentrated on the feeling, the more the feeling grew, with the bleep of the heart monitor accelerating in concert.
With a frustrated sigh, Harry lay back on the bed, staring at the ceiling. He remembered Nikki's voice, and had some recollection of speaking to her, though he couldn't remember what he had said. He had thought she might be here, but obviously she would be back soon if she'd left her coat.
As though the thought of her had somehow summoned her presence, she blew into the room, her face lit up with a beaming smile.
"Harry!" she cried out, rushing to his side, "Leo's figured it out! You'll never believe it but he thinks you might have been bitten by a spider!"
Harry's face twisted in confusion as he tried to make sense of this information.
"Was it radioactive?" he asked, cheered by Nikki's answering giggle.
"Why?" she asked, arching her eyebrow, "Would you like superpowers?"
He paused, pretending to think for a moment,
"Well... invisibility would get me into the ladies locker room," he mused.
Nicki swatted amiably at Harry's head, and felt immediately guilty as he jerked away and winced at the sudden movement. At that moment Leo made his entrance, his face poking round the door enquiringly.
"Nikki, I know it's been a lot more peaceful without him but please try not to lengthen his stay. I know it's unusual but allegedly he does some work with us."
Nikki flushed with guilt, only marginally reassured by the gentle squeeze that Harry gave to her hand. Leo smiled gently in apology and took a seat in the chair, leaving Nikki to perch on the edge of the bed.
"Have you told him yet?" he asked Nikki.
"About the radioactive spider?" asked Harry, "Yes, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for invisibility."
Leo chuckled appreciatively.
"What do you remember about the insects in the lab?" he asked. Harry closed his eyes trying to recollect any details.
"There was a few of them, all caught up in his remaining clothing, I assume because he was lying on his conservatory floor. One spider ran up my leg – nasty bugger. I stamped on it, though I did spill water all over me in the process."
Leo and Nikki nodded, finally understanding the contents of the answer machine message.
"What did it look like?"
"The spider? Spider-like, Leo. Small, black, eight legs, the usual. To be honest I was more concerned with squashing it, than its vital statistics."
Leo fished in his briefcase and pulled out the tox report from Don Ashfeld, he passed it over to Harry who squinted at it before thrusting it back at Leo with an impatient sigh.
"Leo, I don... I can't think straight to know what that means!" aware he had raised his voice more than he meant to, he was immediately contrite, "I'm sorry, Leo, I didn't mean... I shouldn't have shouted, I'm sorry."
Harry was frustrated with himself for losing his temper. The anxiety that had abated with Nikki's calming presence had re-awoken and he was becoming uncomfortably aware of the fluttering beat of his heart in his chest. It didn't help that the increasing rate of the soft bleep of the heart monitor betrayed his anxiety to his friends, no matter how well he tried to hide it. They were both muttering reassurances to him softly, but he couldn't help but see the concerned glances they gave the monitor and each other.
Leo cleared his throat.
"Latrodectus is the toxin of the black widow spider. Although it usually has red markings it can be entirely black, and Mr Ashfeld tested positive for the toxin. Unfortunately for him, his blood also showed high levels of IgE, suggesting that he was allergic to the venom, which is probably what killed him as black widow spiders are rarely fatal. In fact victims usually present with tachycardia, hypertension, anxiety and muscle spasm and paralysis."
He looked pointedly at Harry who nodded in recognition of his own symptoms.
"I've spoken to your doctor and she's arranging for a blood sample to be sent to our lab so we can confirm the toxin in you."
Nikki was frowning in consternation.
" You don't get black widow spiders in Britain." She said eventually, "not even in conservatories, but Ashfeld had to have been bitten there, as anaphylaxis would have killed him extremely quickly. So how did it get there?"
All three of them exchanged a long look.
"Well," Harry began, "either he had a really unusual taste in extreme pets, or..."
"Or," Leo finished grimly, "someone tried to kill him."