A/N: Waaah, I knew it was inevitable, but I'm so sad that people are drifting away from this fandom already. I'm impressed though that fanfic is still being read and written two months after the show's cancellation. What is it about this show? I keep telling my brain to move on, yield to the inevitable, obsess about other things, but my brain still insists on engaging in Alcatraz-related daydreams on a regular basis. What can ya do. Anyway, judging by the number of you still adding this story to your story alerts, you want me to keep going. So here's another chapter. I hope there is still someone out there to read it. Please review!
4. Ray Archer
"It's Dr. Beauregard," Doc said slowly. "The guy taking care of you is another '63."
Rebecca shifted in her bed to stare at the older man. He was in his late sixties, with short,wispy graying hair. His yellowed teeth and stained fingertips marked him as a heavy smoker. He was looking at her just as curiously.
"How many '63s are you hiding, Hauser?" she asked her boss incredulously.
"You've met them all, now," Hauser said, shifting to lean against the wall.
Rebecca was still groggy from the painkillers, but she saw Lucy's eyes flicker toward Hauser at that. He was lying, Rebecca was sure of it. And Lucy knew the truth. Now was not the time to do anything about that, however. It was late, and Rebecca was more exhausted than she wanted to admit.
"Do you just live here?" Doc asked.
"Pretty much, son," Dr. Beauregard replied with a shrug. "Now I'd like you all to clear out of here so I can see to my patient, if you don't mind."
Hauser and Lucy went out into the larger room, but Doc hesitated.
"You too, Soto," Hauser called back impatiently.
"I'll wait right outside," Doc told Rebecca, giving her hand a squeeze.
Then she was alone with Dr. Beauregard, who examined the heart rate monitor for a moment.
"How do you feel, honey?" he finally asked her. "Pain under control?"
"I feel okay," Rebecca said. "Just tired." It was strange to think that this man, had he not 'jumped' from 1963, would be dead of old age long before now.
The doctor nodded. "Well, Dr. Banerjee got me copies of all your medical records, and I reckon it'll be a simple matter to pick up where your doctors left off. I'll take some blood now, check your liver function, and if it hasn't gotten any worse since this morning we'll check on it every four hours, instead of every two."
"Wow, I can't wait to be allowed a whole four hours of sleep," Rebecca murmured sarcastically.
Dr. Beauregard gave her a half smile. "Well, let me draw your blood, hon, and then I'll let you get some rest."
Rebecca stared at the ceiling while the doctor got set up. She turned to watch him fill four small tubes with her blood.
"Why do you keep looking at me like that?" Rebecca asked, becoming annoyed by his frequent glances her way.
The doctor paused. "Ah… I'm sorry, I don't mean to make you uncomfortable," he shrugged apologetically. "It's just that you're not what I expected."
Rebecca's brow furrowed. "What do you mean? It sounds like you know a lot more about me than I do about you."
"Mr. Hauser told me he was working with a young detective," he told her. "Though I didn't realize how young! Yes, he mentions you often."
Rebecca scoffed. "Well, don't judge me too harshly, doctor. I assure you, I'm not nearly as incompetent as Hauser thinks I am."
Dr. Beauregard's eyes widened. "Oh, no, honey, I didn't mean it like that. Mr. Hauser thinks very highly of you, actually."
"Not as far as I can tell," she told him, "but thanks for the vote of confidence."
The doctor chuckled and shook his head. "He's not a man for showing his feelings, so I can understand why this might be news to you. But Mr. Hauser has a lot of confidence in you, young lady. He wouldn't be working with you otherwise. And I'm sure you know he doesn't impress easily, so that's saying something."
Rebecca frowned at the ceiling some more while Dr. Beauregard finished capping the tubes, but she fell asleep before she could figure out whether the man was horribly deluded or might actually know something she didn't about their enigmatic boss.
Hauser was up early the next morning. He stretched his back carefully; the beds in the barracks weren't terribly comfortable, but sometimes it was necessary to remain in the facility overnight. He dressed with his customary efficiency and made his way to the guards' cafeteria. It was practically empty, of course. With only a handful of prisoners to guard, the facility was minimally staffed. That would all change in the coming months, he hoped.
Doc Soto was there, staring moodily into a bowl of oatmeal.
Hauser sat down across from him. "How is she?"
Soto looked up. "She seemed better this morning. Wanted breakfast, even. The doctor just kicked me out to run some tests."
Hauser nodded noncommittally.
"Are these the same tests you took Rebecca out of the hospital to avoid? Are you trying to find out if she really has this heart defect thing?" Soto asked.
"Yes," Hauser admitted reluctantly. "Dr. Beauregard thinks she does, that it saved her life, but I want to be sure."
Soto stirred his oatmeal slowly. "I still can't believe this happened. That a week ago Rebecca was fine, and now she's…"
"You're still in shock," Hauser said after the man trailed off. "But it will get better. Madsen will be fine again, and we'll get back to work."
"I need to go back to town today. An errand. Do you want to come back with me, or stay here?"
"Stay here, I guess," Soto said. "This place is so weird, though. It's where you're keeping the '63s we've caught, isn't it?"
Hauser looked at him, surprised. "Yes," he said finally, seeing no reason to deny it.
Soto nodded again. "Got my Ph.D. in criminology, remember? I read a lot about prison systems. I recognize a prison infirmary and guards' barracks when I see them. Not a lot of guards here, though, and none of them will talk to me."
One corner of Hauser's mouth quirked up. "They were brought in for only one purpose, Soto. They're not from the department of corrections."
Thankfully Soto didn't ask where they were from, and Hauser was able to eat his breakfast and set out on his unwelcome errand.
The drive back was blessedly quiet. As Hauser pulled to a stop and got out of the Explorer, he couldn't help but remember the last time he had come to visit Ray Archer at home.
16 years earlier
Hauser looked down in surprise as the door opened to his knock. He had been anticipating a middle-aged cop, not a little girl.
"Can I help you?" she asked politely, and with more poise than Hauser would have expected. He studied the pale, serious young face and knew this had to be Rebecca Madsen. She had her grandfather's eerily perceptive blue eyes. He estimated her age around ten or eleven.
"I'm looking for Ray Archer," Hauser said.
"I'll get him," the girl replied. She didn't open the door any further and didn't invite him in. Cautious.
Archer appeared a moment later. His eyes narrowed in anger when he saw who the visitor was. "What do you want?" he demanded.
Hauser cleared his throat. "I'd like not to have this discussion on your porch."
Archer glared at him some more, but finally opened the door fully and stepped back so Hauser could enter.
Hauser took a seat on the shabby sofa and waited till Archer sat down opposite him.
"I've come to ask you to join my task force," Hauser said.
"To do what?" Archer snarled.
"You know what."
Archer scoffed and looked away. He caught sight of a blonde head peeking around the corner. "Becca, honey, go play in your room for a few minutes, okay?"
The girl frowned, but turned away.
Archer waited till they heard a door close before speaking in a low, angry voice. "In case you've already forgotten, Hauser, the last time I helped you that little girl's parents wound up dead!"
"You bear as much responsibility for that as I do," Hauser told him.
Archer closed his eyes, clearly pained. "I know. And I have to live with that knowledge, and there's nothing I can do about it. No way to make it up to her. Her parents are gone, and she's got nobody but me now. I have to be there for her, Hauser, she's the most important thing in my life now. I can't help you."
Hauser sighed, disappointed but not surprised.
Hauser knocked and waited. When Ray Archer opened the door, Hauser's sense of déjà vu got even stronger.
"What do you want?" Archer snarled.
Hauser sighed, resigned to the inevitable unpleasantness. "I need to talk to you, Ray. It's about Rebecca."
As Hauser had predicted, Ray was furious with him for spiriting Rebecca out of the hospital. He assured the man she was safe and being well cared for by a medical doctor, but nothing would mollify Ray Archer.
"I want to see her."
"That can be arranged," Hauser said. "But there are conditions."
"What conditions?" Archer demanded.
"I asked you a question sixteen years ago, Ray. Do you remember?"
"You wanted me to join your task force," Ray said. "And the answer's still no."
"That's the condition," Hauser told him. "I'm asking again, and if you want me to take you to Rebecca, you'll agree, and you'll swear to keep everything you learn about this project a secret."
Ray snorted. "What's to prevent me from telling everyone your dirty secrets, Hauser?"
"It would put Rebecca in danger, for one thing," Hauser said calmly. "You once told me she was the most important thing in your life, Ray. Is that still true?"
That gave Ray pause. "Damn you, Hauser," he said, and sighed. Reluctantly, he agreed to help the task force and keep Hauser's secrets.
Rebecca woke from a light doze to find Doc holding her hand. This had become a frequent occurrence, but she didn't comment. She could understand that Doc needed reassurance.
"Hey," she murmured groggily.
"Hey," Doc replied, smiling to see her awake. "How were the tests? You seemed pretty tired afterwards."
"Yeah," Rebecca said. "They were okay. I feel gross, though. Dr. Beauregard put a bunch more electrodes on me. He took them off after the tests, but he did a lousy job of getting the electrode gel off."
Doc grinned at his scowling friend. "Well, at the rate you're going, maybe they'll let you take a shower soon and you can wash off the electrode gunk."
Rebecca turned to him and smiled. "Now that's something to look forward to."
They both looked up as the door opened and Dr. Beauregard came in, followed by Lucy, Hauser and Ray Archer.
Rebecca's face lit up. "Ray!"
Ray came forward and gathered Rebecca into a gentle embrace. "Oh, sweetheart, am I glad to see you!"
Rebecca closed her eyes and hugged Ray back. "I'm sorry about all this, Ray. I know you must have been worried."
Ray laid her tenderly back against her pillows and shook his head. "Don't worry about it, Becca. Hauser here has drafted me into his little operation, so I won't have to wonder what you're up to anymore."
Rebecca raised her eyebrows, surprised that Ray would agree to such a thing. "Really? You know about the '63s?"
"I already knew some of it. Hauser filled me in on the drive over."
Well, I'm glad," Rebecca said finally. "I don't like keeping secrets from you." Ray averted his eyes at this, and she knew he was thinking about the secrets he'd kept from her all her life. She wondered if he would be more forthright now that he knew about the project. Rebecca sighed and squeezed his hand.
Dr. Beauregard cleared his throat. "I have the results of the cardiac tests I performed on you earlier, Detective, if you'd like to hear them," he said.
She perked up at this. "Yeah, please," she said, curious.
"Well, you do seem to have the same condition as Tommy Madsen," Beauregard said. "Of course, I haven't performed any tests on Tommy with the modern technology we now have, so I can't say for certain that the details are the same, but it seems likely."
"What do you mean?" Ray asked. "What details?"
"You see, normally a heartbeat is triggered by pacemaker cells in the myocardium. We all have a group of pacemaker cells, called the sinoatrial node, that depolarize spontaneously and cause the heart to contract. If there's something wrong with the SA node, there's another node of pacemaker cells that will take over, called the atrioventricular node. If that doesn't function, we have a third node that can take over. And if that doesn't work, well, you're pretty much toast. What is unusual about Miss Madsen here is that she seems to have a fourth pacemaker node. I believe what happened after your heart stopped on the operating table, Detective, is that the defibrillator activated this fourth pacemaker node, and that saved your life."
"Wow," Diego said, impressed. "You really are a superhero!"
Lucy was thinking hard. "And this is what Tommy had, too?" she asked Dr. Beauregard.
"I think there's a good chance, yes."
Lucy turned to Hauser. "This could be it, couldn't it? The reason Warden James picked Tommy as his guinea pig?"
"Yes…" Hauser said thoughtfully. "If he was doing something to the prisoners' blood that could have damaged their hearts, he would want to start with someone who had a good chance of surviving the experiments."
"This is crazy," Rebecca murmured.
"It's a lot to absorb, I'm sure," Lucy said sympathetically.
Rebecca shook her head, and scratched at the bit of dried electrode gel on her neck. "I can't absorb it right now," she said. "It is what it is, I guess. I have a more important concern, Doctor."
They all turned to look at her expectantly.
"When can I take a shower?" she exclaimed.
TBC... I think one more chapter should do it. Please, please review!