AN: First attempt at a TT/TC fic. I'm not sure how successful it was but this idea would not leave my head. I hope you enjoy. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Disclaimer: I do not own Trauma Team. I don't even have the game, and it looks like it won't ever be released in my region. *sigh*
The Nicotine Club
It was after midnight, and Gabriel Cunningham was not surprised.
Sure to stand outside of the teenager's peripheral vision, Gabe watched as Alyssa Breslin struggled against the icy night wind to light her cigarette. Her thumb spun the lighter's ignition with no success. A few curse words later, and Gabe thought he'd put her out of her misery.
"The trick is to shield the end of the cigarette from the wind as you light it," he said, taking the implements from her. "You also need a new lighter," he added "This is empty. Here. I have mine."
With shock and confusion etched on her face, Alyssa gingerly took the lit cigarette from him. She made no further movement, except to look up at her mother's friend questioningly.
"You smoke it," Gabe told her. "Don't act like you don't know what you're doing. After three months in the nicotine club, you should have figured that one out."
"Okay. How did you know how long I've been smoking?" Alyssa asked. "I haven't told anyone."
Gabe smirked. "Please. You don't think I noticed when my cigarettes started going missing? Lisa's been bugging me for years to quit, and Joshua can't lie to save himself. That leaves the only other person in the house, who just happened to move in at the same time my cigarettes started going missing. Coincidence?"
Knowing she'd been caught, Alyssa sighed. "No. I'm sorry. I'll pay you back."
"Don't bother. I've been deliberately leaving them in places you would find them."
"What? You're not pissed?"
"I used to steal cigarettes from my parents when I was your age. I can't be a hypocrite now, can I?" Gabe said. "And I know things have been rough for you the last few months with your mom being sick and you have to move in here. If you need a cigarette or two to get you through the day, I'm not going to grudge you that. There are worse things you could be doing."
"Thanks, I guess."
"If you ever want to talk about everything that's going on...we're all here for you, you know."
With a scoff, the teenager exhaled the cloud of smoke. "Well that's crap. Nobody's always there for anybody. Sooner or later they all abandon you. They'll betray you, or they'll be blown into a million pieces or they'll have a relapse of some freak show genetic mutation. Sooner or later, you're on your own."
"Naomi's in good hands. Derek Stiles is a legend; he'll figure something out."
"No, he won't. C'mon. The first time he was here, he tried extracting the GUILT cells. Second time, tried using Stigma to fight them: that just made her condition worse. Hell, he even injected her with a non-contagious form the Rosalia Virus, and all that did was put her in the ICU for three weeks. If Superdoc was going to figure something out, he'd have done it some point in the last nine years since he diagnosed her. Besides," Alyssa sighed, "they're all too busy fighting SHAME now. You really think they're going to worry about one person when that thing's wiped out half of Tokyo? No. They've filed Naomi Kimishima away under 'Lost Causes'."
As much as he didn't want to, Gabe had to concede.
"I know she's dying. You don't need to bullshit me."
"No," Gabe frowned. "I guess not."
"When I went to visit yesterday, it took her three attempts to get my name right. She kept calling me Alice. First time I thought I might have heard her wrong, but by the third attempt I really wanted to punch a wall. On my way home I had to pull over, I was crying so much. She's not her. I guess what they say is true," Alyssa mused. "Karma's a real bitch."
"I don't believe in Karma. What did anybody do to deserve Rosalia?"
"Nobody deserved GUILT either andwe both know that story," Alyssa spat, and then took a drag of the cigarette. "So, you're really not going to lecture me about lung cancer or strokes or heart disease or how these things will kill me one way or another?"
"No. I figure, when you're seven times more likely to die of some man-made disease, why not take your chances on the traditional methods of dying? When was the last time you heard of someone dying of lung cancer anyway? I haven't seen a case in years. On the other hand I've seen plenty of viral haemorrhagic fever, GUILT, Stigma and I expect to the first case of SHAME to walk through the door any day now."
"The world sucks."
"Amen to that. Does..." Gabe hesitated, before asking a question he'd been reluctant to previously. "Does Navel know how your mom has deteriorated? Has he tried to get in touch?"
Alyssa's eyes narrowed to a glare into the distance. (It was exactly the reaction Gabe had expected when he brought up the topic.) "If he does know," snarled Alyssa, "it's not because I told him. If he ever did dare to ask me anything about my mom, I'd find it exceptionally difficult not to kill him with my bare hands. I wouldn't spit on him if he was on fire; I'd stand there and watch the bastard burn. " The teenager inhaled one last drag of her cigarette. "You're not going to tell my mom about this, are you?"
"Even if I wanted to, she'd just forget what I said two seconds later."
Alyssa laughed bitterly. "She's not going to live until my graduation, is she?"
"If you want my honest opinion," Gabe said, "no. She's not. Even if, by chance, she is alive, I doubt she'll know what her own name is, let alone yours."
Gabe thought he might have seen the teenager's eyes glaze over with a thin film of tears, but if there was one thing he knew Alyssa had picked up from her adoptive mother it was that she seldom let people see her emotional.
Alyssa cleared her throat before continuing. "You'll be there, right?"
"Are you kidding?" Gabe answered, causing the slightest of smiles to creep across Alyssa's face. "Tomoe and Maria are gonna be there too."
"Yeah. They asked for the day off months ago. And Maria's going to be pleased that we have another smoking buddy. Speaking of which." He removed the cigarette box from his pocket. "One more?"
Gabe shrugged and lit his own cigarette. "Suit yourself."
"Thanks, anyway. You know, for everything."
"You're welcome, kid."
"I should go back inside. I don't think my chem teacher will be amused if I tell her the reason I've fallen asleep at my desk is because I spent all night outside smoking."
"I'd be amused if a seventeen-year-old student had the cojones to admit that in my class," Gabe said. "Oh, and one little piece of advice before you go: if you're going to smoke out the bathroom window, make sure you don't set fire to anything. Maria Torres has a great story about that."
"Okay, I'll try not to set fire to anything," Alyssa chuckled. "But I wanna hear the rest of that story."
"Ask Maria at the next meeting of the nicotine club."
Alyssa nodded. "Will do. "