Transbiotic: Across Life
A medical emergency radiates across the team's lives, shaping new love, reconciling old, and uncovering past wrongs.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, plot points, and information belong to their respective creators. All unrecognizable characters, plot points, and information are my own. This work of fanfiction is produced solely out of admiration, obsession, and the pursuit of completing a story of significant length.
My continuing gratitude to those who have read, followed, and reviewed.
Chapter 3 – Father Figure
It was an uncharacteristically quiet night in the emergency wing of New York Hospital, but the silence did little to settle Lee's nerves. If anything, a bit of bustle, the whirr of machines and a swirl of voices, might have kept the ones in his head from seeming so strong. As much as his career, his life, centered around thinking, and thinking about why something was thought, and thinking about how to get that thought to change, when Lee was left to his own mind, things got terribly loud.
Their room, nothing more than a privacy curtain jutting out from and back into a wall, offered little room for pacing. Instead, Lee stood at Gary's bedside, alternatively adjusting his glasses and running a hand through his salt and pepper hair.
Lee had known as soon as the Department of Defense had contacted him that he would need to be particularly careful to keep Gary out of harm's way. Violence wasn't something he willingly prescribed to anyone, but to someone of Gary's disposition, of his abilities, his frame of mind … Lee suspected there had been more to Gary's episode in the hall than simple shock. Merely in remaining conscious, Gary's brain had exhibited a disturbing unwillingness—or inability—to shut down when presented with such a data rich environment.
Somewhere between the ambulance and his room, his gaze had become purely electric. For less than a moment had Lee seen Gary in those eyes.
Any true assessment of the transducer could only be left to the future, however. For the moment, Gary lay sedated beneath paper-thin hospital sheets. His bed had been made almost completely flat to accommodate the weave of bandages and medical tape that encased his neck., which shifted with the rise and fall of his chest.
Even standing in front of him, Lee couldn't shake the image of Gary's neck plastered in broken skin and blood. He stopped in his fidgeting and stared intently down at him.
This is the present. Not blood, but bandages.
Taking a steadying breath, as if to cement the image of Gary at least partially healed in his mind, Lee retired to their cubicle's only chair, a sparsely padded, plastic thing in the corner. Lee leaned back with a sigh and let his head rest against the wall. The refreshing cool of tile seeped through the back of his graying hair as he looked out across the room.
It was, perhaps, the first time in his knowing Gary that he had abstained from dipping into the invisible world of waves and signals for any notable amount of time. It felt terribly unnatural to see Gary's arms limp at his sides, his fingers unmoving.
For now, I'll just have to look away.
Clipping his glasses to the collar of his shirt, Lee closed his eyes and massaged his temple.
Still so much to do… I'll need to check on Cameron, make arrangements for the office, and speak with Agent Clay about Kern. That he's even alive now is— Metal ran against metal as a woman in loose blue scrubs and a lab coat slipped through the curtains. She was cradling a roll of bandages, a bottle of anti-septic solution, and a pair of tiny silver scissors in the crook of her arm, freeing up her hands to pull on a pair of white gloves.
Her fingers moved in a half-conscious sort of manner, suggesting force of habit, as did her surprise upon noticing Lee tucked away the corner of the room.
"Oh! I apologize… I didn't realize anyone was still here this late." Setting her supplies down on the small table by Gary's bedside, she smiled uncertainly in his direction. "I'm, um, just about to change his dressings."
Letting his hand fall from his face, Lee observed quietly for a moment as she adjusted her gloves and arranged her supplies on the table. Angled toward Gary, her features were largely obscured by the thick, brown-blonde curls pinned to the back of her head. Though the stance may simply have been a product of professionalism, her attempt to afford him some measure of privacy while she tended to her patient, her posture suggested otherwise.
Lee felt his inner psychologist kicking in before he could so much as speak.
Hunched shoulders and restrictive movements. Almost as if she were sheltering herself against Lee's gaze, as if her preparations—her examination of the bottle of anti-septic and Gary's bandages—were no more than a pretense. The defensive behavior was vaguely characteristic of his sessions with Nina, however…
Lee shook his head softly.
Stop this! You're not going to let this mess color your perceptions of people. If you can't trust a doctor, who can you trust? Lee put on his glasses, and tried not to think of Dr. Kern. She's tired, just like everyone else.
Hand again on his temple, Lee willed himself to stand.
"Of course. I'll just be going then, Doctor?" Lee turned to collect his jacket from the back of his chair before he could remember himself. It had been discarded along with Gary's soiled clothes when they had first arrived in the ER. Shaking his head, Lee adjusted his glasses and looked up, only to realize she was yet to respond.
It seemed she had taken his moment of distraction as an opportunity to examine him as well. Not romantically—though, certainly, that form of attention would have put Lee off his guard as well—but almost as if using him for comparison.
As their eyes met, all brown, she immediately turned back to the table.
"Ah! Um, Dr. Schultz…" Dr. Schultz took a breath, as if she didn't particularly like what she was about to say, and took up Gary's chart in her hand. "Norah Schultz." Lee raised an eyebrow and eyed her uncertainly as he headed for the break in the curtain.
"Yes… Well, I'll be going then. Take good care of him." Dr. Schultz nodded mutely as Lee parted the curtains and stepped out into the ER. Before they could fall close, she raised a hand to stop him.
"Wait." Though she was nearly inaudible, Lee caught the curtain with his arm and gestured for her to continue. She flinched somewhat, as if she hadn't expected him to stop, but pressed on. "Ahm… are you his father?"
Lee paused for a breath, as if unsure he had heard her correctly, then laughed dryly and smiled.
"No, just a concerned coworker." Turning her attention back to the chart, Dr. Schultz nodded, as if a weight had been removed from her shoulders, if only temporarily.
"My mistake. Good night." She smiled quietly, looking near him, but not quite at him as he turned to go. It was peculiar, the feeling of someone looking through him. Having worked with Gary and any number of DoD agents, though, it wasn't something Lee was altogether unfamiliar with.
"Good night." Lee let the curtain fall closed behind himself, his expression smoothing out as he began to orient himself in the ER at large.
Gary's room opened up into an improvised hallway, a maze of bland curtains and criss-crossed poles. Posted high up on the wall, just high enough to be seen from within the polyester labyrinth, was a sign reading: waiting room.
With little pause, Lee started toward the sign and the door stationed below it, the hint of a smile playing at his lips.
He wouldn't deny that he took some amount of pride from the doctor's assumption. It was his every intent to be there for his team in a meaningful capacity—even if their recoveries and grasp of their abilities often seemed to rest in pasts and actions he couldn't possibly control. At that thought, Lee's smile faded from his face.
There was one alpha whose past he had been in control of, and it didn't take much to imagine Danielle in Gary's circumstance. Though it pained Lee to acknowledge it, she was on more than enough drugs—and involved with more than enough of the wrong people—that an overdose was not only within question, but almost to be expected. The difference between Danielle and Gary, of course, was that Lee had a fairly strong idea of what his daughter was getting into. Whatever psychology told him about taking responsibility for the actions of others, Lee knew the impact he'd had on her. His decision to study the alpha phenomena at the price of her childhood shaped their relationship to this day. If he were in Sandra Bell's place, however, if he knew that someone else had put Danny in danger… Lee could scarcely begin to form an explanation, a way to tell Sandra enough to keep Gary on the team while somehow keeping her enough in the dark to spare her federal, or Red Flag, involvement.
There were, after all, few circumstances under which an autistic man in work-to-life therapy would encounter an invisible, knife wielding psychopath. Sighing weakly, Lee turned a final left and crossed the threshold into another, shorter hallway.
As Gary would put it, what's our cover? The DoD had taken care of things as far as the hospital was concerned—it was government business and that was all they needed to know—but Lee wasn't sure he could tell Gary's mother anything but the truth at this point.
How much of it she'll take before slitting my own throat, I can't say.
And with that, Lee entered the waiting room, a florescent lit, bustling place full of forms and people and nurses with charts. Against the far wall, Nina, Rachel, and Cameron waited in sparsely padded chairs. Cameron leaned into a cell phone, while Nina looked pointedly away. Only Rachel, ever attuned to her environment, looked up as he approached.
"Oh, Dr. Rosen, thank goodness you're here!"
Lee couldn't help but shake his head. At the moment, it didn't seem his presence was doing much good at all.
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