AN: Here is the next and final part. I hope you enjoy.
An FBI raid on a Delphi base had gone badly, badly wrong. They didn't know who was shot and who was infected, but the first influx of patients was expected to arrive at Resurgum First Care in five minutes.
The FBI chose to raid a suspected base the same week that Superdoc Derek Stiles was in town for a well-publicised conference regarding the recent terrorist activity. Coincidence? Dr Alyssa Breslin thought not, and she'd made her thoughts on that clear several times since news of crisis had broken much to the chagrin of the other interns and medical staff around her.
"You all ready for this?" Gabe Cunningham – head diagnostician– asked the clutch of interns.
If the other interns hadn't been around, Alyssa might have unleashed a sarcastic response to remind him that they'd barely graduated medical school four months ago so no, they were not ready for this but they'd do it anyway. Instead, she held her tongue. Her colleagues didn't know that in a former life she used to live in their boss' attic.
Alyssa was more nervous about this than she'd ever admit to any of them. Any of the interns anyway, since Gabe had probably already noted the clenched fists and combative stare that had manifested as soon as the 'D' word was mentioned.
She'd already donned the yellow protective gown when the boss man pulled her aside.
"You sure you can handle this?"
Frankly, Alyssa resented the implication that she couldn't. "Why wouldn't I be able to handle it?"
"Forget I asked."
The siren wailed. An ambulance had pulled into the emergency bay.
"Breslin. You'll take this one," Gabe instructed.
Alyssa stepped forward, just as the ambulance pulled to a stop by the entrance. By the time she'd snapped on the hideous blue nitrile gloves, the paramedics were wheeling the patient in.
"Is this one of the federal agents?"
The question had been directed at the paramedics, but it was Alyssa who answered.
"No," she snarled. "It's one of them."
The only person not muttering a question of how Alyssa could possibly know that off the bat was Gabriel Cunningham.
For one thing, the Chiral Reaction Positive male being wheeled through was wearing a black and orange. It had been a while since Alyssa had bumped into any feds, but that certainly was not their uniform. His face was more drawn than she remembered it, eyes sunken further into the skull. Hardly surprising, given the chiral readings. His hair had turned from blonde to grey in the years since, but there had been a time long ago when Alyssa had considered the Delphi agent on the stretcher as her father.
"Alyssa?" His voice was strained, though Alyssa wasn't sure if it was due to age or whatever strains the bastard had infected himself with. "That's you?"
Perhaps it was delirium induced by fever, or maybe he thought that in a decade Alyssa would have forgotten all that had happened, but he tried to reach for the arm gripping the stretcher. Alyssa snatched it away, leaving nobody controlling the right side of the stretcher.
His cough was sharp. Blood trickled from the sides of his mouth, a sure sign of internal bleeding. "Just let me die. Just let it be quick."
"How about I get a gun? See how you like it." Alyssa leaned down, just so he could hear her perfectly clearly. "You, you son of a bitch, are not getting off that easily."
"Breslin," Gabriel interrupted firmly. "I think you should sit this one out. Don't you? Get someone else."
This time, Alyssa didn't argue with him.
The last time Gabriel Cunningham had been at the hospital doors to receive the first of the raid patients it had still been light, and the sun had still been warm. He was looking for Alyssa, though he suspected she'd have long ago gone home. Or to a bar, which would be his first stop if he'd endured the day she had. When he stepped outside, he discovered his suspicions were wrong. He walked over to the shelter where Alyssa was standing with a lit cigarette held firmly between her index and middle fingers.
"I thought you'd have left the nicotine club by now."
Alyssa shrugged her shoulders as she brought the cigarette to her mouth. "I tried to quit a couple of times," she admitted, the smoke escaping as she spoke. "But when you're thirteen times more likely to die of some man-made disease than you are of anything smoking related, it doesn't seem worth it." She held out the cigarette box in offering.
"My thoughts exactly," he answered, taking a cigarette. "I've been smoking for near on thirty-five years; little point in quitting now." He stood beside her, leaning on the cold metal railing. "So what ever happened to 'I'd stand and watch the bastard burn'?"
"Changed my mind," Alyssa answered quickly. "Nine years gave me a lot of time to think. Knowing that he's dead isn't enough. I decided I want to see him suffer. I want him to slowly rot like my mom did."
Alyssa's bitterness couldn't have been any clearer if it had sprouted legs and kneed Gabe in the groin. "I remember you being a sweet girl a long time ago," he remarked.
"You do?" she sardonically queried. "I don't." Alyssa stubbed out the cigarette on the railing – the third one since she'd been standing there. "My mom would have killed me if she found out I'd smoked since I was seventeen," she noted, with a look down at the discarded stubs.
"Please. Your mom could hear the voices of the dead through her Voodoo Hotline. I'm guessing she's got some way of finding out things from the afterlife. She knows. She's somewhere in the afterlife writing you a list of every disease you might contract. And when you eventually do kick the bucket due to emphysema, she's going to be at the pearly gates shaking her head and saying 'I told you so.'"
"She so is, isn't she?" Alyssa chuckled at the mental image of her ghostly mother's disapproving look, despite her best effort to suppress it. "I wasn't going come back to Portland, you know," she continued. "After college, after med school. I could've gone anywhere. I was all ready to accept an internship in Jacksonville. I'd looked at apartments and everything. Then I got the offer from Resurgam and somehow I ended up back here. I don't know why I came back – I don't know why I even applied – but here I am."
"Yeah, you walking through the door as one of the new interns was a helluva surprise. Especially since nobody had heard from you in, oh, eight and a half years."
Remorse swept across Alyssa's face. "Sorry about that. I was always going to call, and whenever there was a vacation period coming up I'd tell myself I was going to make myself visit, but I never did. I never wanted to. I wanted to stay as far away from this place as I could. When I went to college, it was nice not to have people know who I was. Nobody gave me the sad eyes when I passed them in the corridor. Nothing was tainted. Here, I've nothing but bad memories."
"We both know that isn't true."
"Oh yeah?" Alyssa challenged. "I'm back here three months and look what shows up."
"From what you said earlier, I'm guessing you're angry about more than just him leaving your mom. So, are you going to tell me what really happened back then?"
Alyssa sighed heavily. Although she had never told the honest story, the memories frequently invaded her sleep. "When none of the treatments worked, and we found out my mom was terminal, he left, but not before holding a gun up to the two of us. I walk into the living room and he's actually got his finger on the trigger. I scream and he aims it at me, just for a few seconds before he aims it back at Mom. I'm freaking out but my mom, she's cool as ice. She's telling him 'what's the point? I'm dying anyway, your organisation's going to get what it wants'. He looked at my mom, then at me, then back at my mom. And then he just... left. He lowered the gun and he just walked out of the house. You know, he was working for them, for Delphi the whole time he lived with us. He was relaying information to them about my mom; I guess they wanted her blood for handing over samples and information to the authorities. So they ordered him to kill her."
Gabe could only exhale loudly in disbelief.
"She made me swear not to tell anyone. If the FBI found out she knew he'd been with Delphi, they'd have revoked her plea bargain. And who wants to spend their dying months in a prison cell?"Alyssa explained. "You know that son of a bitch had the audacity to look guilty while he was holding the gun?"
Alyssa raised an eyebrow at the quip. "There were times when my mom was so demented she was in adult diapers that I wished he'd done it. That he'd just shot her there and then so it would have been quick, and her death wouldn't have been a long drawn out painful process. And as her condition was deteriorating, I kept thinking that this was his fault. It was his fault my mom had been exposed to this thing in the first place. He was one of the lunatics that created it. But then again, so was my mom in a former life, so I guess I should blame her just as much."
"Your mom wasn't a bad person," Gabe said. "She did some bad things, sure. But her mistake was to believe they were a saving grace. She didn't know what she was getting into, and god knows she paid the price for it. Naomi wasn't a bad person."
"And him? You knew him too. Did you think he'd be the type of person to be involved in something like that? Do you think he was a bad person?"
"I don't know," Gabe replied." I always thought he cared for Naomi and you. I can't imagine him wanting to harm either of you."
"Neither could I until then, but he still aimed a gun at us," wearied Alyssa." You trust people, and they hold a gun to you. Lesson learned: Don't trust people."
"That'll serve you well in life," Gabe said sarcastically.
"It has for the last ten years," Alyssa spat back. "We both know my mom was a good person, really, but do you think it makes the slightest difference bit of difference to all those people who lost someone to GUILT that she was forced to be a part of Delphi? As far as they're concerned, she was just another terrorist. They'd dance on her grave if she hadn't been cremated."
"Are you going to dance on his?"
Alyssa broke her forward stare to look at Gabe. "He didn't make it through the surgery, did he?"
Gabe frowned. "Afraid not."
"Wow," Alyssa said flatly. "Another rousing success for Superdoc."
"Derek Stiles has saved a lot of people over the years."
"He didn't save my mother."
Gabe held his tongue to avoid telling her nobody could've saved her mother. Alyssa knew this, of course, but Gabe had encountered enough grieving people to know that sometimes there just had to be someone to blame. There was no use in arguing with her.
"So," Alyssa said with a bitter laugh. "He gets off Scot free, then? That's just fantastic."
"His internal organs were ripped to shreds by multiple advanced stage Kyriaki. They were surprised he lived with that as long as he did. He'd have been in a great deal of pain."
"Not for long enough," Alyssa responded, almost before Gabe had completed his sentence.
"Even if he'd gone the same way as your mom," Gabe said, "it wouldn't have been enough for you. Nothing would."
It took her a few seconds of thinking for Alyssa to eventually reply. "You're probably right."
"You're bitter about everything that happened, and anybody would be in your shoes. But don't let bitterness ruin your life, Alyssa. Don't let it stop you from making relationships with people, or from going to medical conferences that other interns would give their left arm to be at because the person leading it is Derek Stiles. You don't want to get to my age and realise your life's passed you by. Trust me."
Alyssa didn't respond. She just stared straight ahead.
"Chief says you've to take the rest of the day off," Gabe told her. "And man, do you look like you need it."
"No 'buts'. The crisis is over, and the hospital can go without one scut monkey for the night."
The slightest of smiles appeared on Alyssa's face. "Thanks." She held out the almost empty pack of cigarettes. "One more for the road?"
"I would but I've got a ton of paperwork to catch up on and they stopped me smoking in the hospital building years ago."
Alyssa shrugged. "Suit yourself."
"You going to be okay?"
"I've got my friend here," Alyssa said, holding up an unlit cigarette. "We've been fine for years; that's not going to change."
Gabe began his retreat to the hospital building. "Don't be disappearing off the face of the planet again, okay?"
"I'll try my best," Alyssa answered. "See you tomorrow."